Sept. 29, 2009
DeKALB, Ill. - After opening its Mid-American Conference schedule on the road last weekend, the Northern Illinois volleyball team will host a pair of conference matches this week with a Thursday contest against preseason favorite Western Michigan (10-7, 2-0 MAC) at 7 p.m. CT and a 7 p.m. match versus Miami (Ohio) (7-7, 2-0 MAC) on Saturday at Victor E. Court.
"It's great to be at home for this stretch," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden, who is 73-45 at home and 31-26 when hosting league opponents since 2002. "We are playing against two of the top teams in our conference. The bad part right now is we know that we haven't played our best volleyball, but the good part is that we know that we are capable of doing it. We know we will have to play our best this week to be successful against these two teams."
The Huskies (6-9, 0-2 MAC) will look to continue their solid play at home as they are 4-2 this year at Victor E. Court. While losing only nine of 24 sets at home, NIU has outscored its foes 430 to 382, holding sizeable advantages in kills (353-307), assists (326-285), aces (30-17) and digs (370-336).
NIU is led by sophomore Allison McGlaughlin (Morton, Ill./Morton), who has already tied a career-best with six double-doubles this year. She is tops on the team with 202 kills (3.81/set) and ranks second in digs with 140 (2.64/set). She has also led the Huskies in kills in eight matches and has reached double-figures 10 times in 15 matches, going over the 20-kill mark on four occasions.
The Huskies also feature three senior contributors in Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio/Northview), Cassie Yates (LaPorte, Ind./LaPorte) and Amanda Tadla (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn). Schoenrock carries a team second-best kill total of 176 (3.32/set) and has reached double-digits eight times, coming off a season-best 23-kill performance against Toledo last Saturday. Yates leads the team in aces (10), hitting percentage (.318) and blocks with 40 (0.83/set), while she has five double-digit kills matches and 10 with two or more blocks. Tadla leads the offensive distribution with 464 assists (10.55/set) and is coming off a career-best 56-assist match against Toledo as she has reached 50 helpers three times this season.
On defense, NIU is anchored by junior libero Maddie Hughes
(St. Charles, Ill./North), who has eight straight matches with at least 10 digs and has failed to reach that mark only twice this season, reaching the 20-dig mark five times with four coming in her last five matches.
Western Michigan enters Thursday's contest on a six-match winning streak and beat both teams (Toledo and Ball State) that NIU lost to last weekend on the road. The Broncos are led by Michelle Mooore's 215 kills (3.21/set). Jillian Mitchell runs the offense with an average of 10.02 assists per set (571) and Allyson Doyle leads the defense with 208 digs (3.10/set).
WMU leads the all-time series against the Huskies 27-15 and won the last matchup between the two, 3-2, in DeKalb last season.
"Western has always been one of the most efficient teams in our conference, and this year's edition continues that tradition," said Gooden.
Miami heads into Saturday's match after defeating Buffalo and Akron at home last weekend. The RedHawks are led by Maria Leahy, who has 175 kills (3.30/set) and 11 aces. Andrea Atteberry captains the offense with 411 assists (8.93/set) and Lisa Treadway tops the defense with 208 digs (3.92/set).
Miami leads the all-time series versus NIU 17-14 and ended the Huskies' season last year with a 3-2 win at the MAC Tournament in the last contest between the two.
"Miami is a very physical team that runs their offense at a very fast pace," Gooden said. "Each week they've continued to get themselves in better form and are currently playing a solid level of volleyball."
Fans attending Thursday's "4-H Night" can get in for $1 with an Illinois 4-H membership and can get their faces painted prior to the match from 6-7 p.m. On Saturday, fans who attend NIU's homecoming football game against Western Michigan at 2:30 p.m. can show their football ticket stub and get into the volleyball match for $1. Both matches can be followed with live stats via GameTracker on niuhuskies.com. Please note that due to the fact that NIU will be hosting a home football game this weekend, parking for Saturday's match will cost $5.