Sept. 27, 2006
DeKalb, Ill. - Northern Illinois volleyball coach Ray Gooden knows that there is a long way to go in the Mid-American Conference slate, as 14 matches remain on the Huskies schedule.
But there is no denying the importance of last weekend's road sweep of both Eastern and Central Michigan, giving the Huskies their first 2-0 MAC start since 2000.
NIU (9-5, 2-0 MAC) looks to extend their hot start on Thursday, as the Huskies travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to face Western Michigan (11-5, 1-1 MAC) for a 6 p.m. (CST) first serve. The Huskies have a day off before returning home to square off against Bowling Green (12-2, 2-0 MAC) at Victor E. Court (7 p.m. CST) on Saturday evening.
The Huskies are led offensively by senior middle blocker Kate McCullagh (Woodstock, Ill.). McCullagh, who is currently fourth in the nation with 5.51 kills-per-game, has totaled 270 kills for the season. Sophomore setter Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill.) has dished out a team-best 567 assists, while senior libero Gina Guide (Orland Park, Ill.) is tops on the squad and 18th in the nation with 5.76 digs-per-game.
With a pair of victories, NIU would be off to its best MAC start since 1997, when the Huskies began the season 4-0 in conference action.
Gooden and the Huskies, however, are focused on the immediate task at hand, Western Michigan.
"We just have to go out there and realize that we're playing one match at a time," Gooden said. "We've set some goals for our team and each match is a separate battle. We're not looking at the whole entire picture, it's one match at a time. So we're getting ourselves ready to give our best effort against Western Michigan."