Oct. 5, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. - Fresh off its first Mid-American Conference road weekend, the Northern Illinois volleyball team will host its second conference home weekend as West Division rival Western Michigan and East Division foe Miami (Ohio) come to campus. The Huskies (13-5, 2-2 MAC) will face WMU (13-4, 3-1 MAC) Thursday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. CT and MU (12-6, 3-1 MAC) Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m.
How To Follow
Both matches will have live stats available via GameTracker on NIUHuskies.com and live streaming video through Huskie All-Access.
Thursday's WMU match is "Girl Scout Night" as any girl scouts in uniform will receive $5 admission along with a meal offer. Call 815-753-1828 to purchase tickets or for more information. Due to the "Pretty Lights" event at the Convocation Center Thursday evening, fans that arrive at the match after 6:30 p.m. will be charged $5 for parking.
Saturday's MU match is "High School Team Night" and "NIU Volleyball Alumni Night." Any high school volleyball teams that submit a roster prior to game day will received free admission. Call 815-753-8042 for details. Several NIU volleyball alumni will be recognized at the match. Alumni can call 815-753-9198 to RSVP.
As with every Huskie home match, both nights will feature a post-match autograph session.
Building Off Historic 2010 Campaign
NIU returns all but one player from last season's team that finished second at the Mid-American Conference tournament, tallying the most wins (27) since 1998 and best conference finish since 2001. The Huskies got off to a record 11-0 start to 2010 and ended the season ranked fifth in the country in wins, 29th in winning percentage (.771), 31st in hitting percentage (.256), 33rd in kills per set (14.01) and assists per set (13.07), and 38th in aces per set (1.52).
Individually, the Huskies had six MAC West Division Player of the Week selections, including Lauren Wicinski's school career record five in just her freshman season. Wicinski also became the first in league history to garner MAC Player and Freshman of the Year in the same season. Additionally, she became the second Huskie to earn AVCA Honorable Mention All-American recognition, and the first to do so as a rookie. Joining Wicinski on the All-American list was teammate Kristin Hoffman, who became the program's first ever ESPN/CoSIDA Academic Third Team All-American. Hoffman's classmate Allison McGlaughlin was also recognized on the ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District 5 First Team. Wicinski and Hoffman were honored on the All-MAC First Team as well, while graduated libero Maddie Hughes was a Second Team selection.
Entering his 10th season as NIU head coach, Ray Gooden is coming off his most successful season. The program's second all-time wins leader owns a respectable 169-134 record at NIU, including a 101-91 mark in MAC play and an impressive 96-54 tally at home. Gooden is in the process of leaving an indelible mark on the program as the top three place holders in kills, kills per set, attack attempts and points all played under Gooden, as well as the top two holders in digs and digs per set.
Additionally, Gooden has coached 17 All-MAC, five MAC All-Freshman and two MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only three All-Americans in program history. Four players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden: Tara Lobdell, Kate McCullagh (1,936 kills, second in MAC history), Meagan Schoenrock, and Allison McGlaughlin, who has another year to add to her total.
Starting Off On The Right Foot
For the fourth straight season, and ninth time in 10 tries under Gooden, the Huskies won their season opener. The triumph was a 3-1 decision over IUPUI on Aug. 26. The lone season in which NIU did not win its first match came in 2007, when the Huskies fell in five sets to Indiana at Victor E. Court. The Huskies are also 9-1 in home openers under Gooden.
With a 3-0 sweep at Green Bay Aug. 30, the Huskies won their third straight road opener, marking their 16th consecutive win against the Phoenix, who NIU is 19-1 against all-time.
By sweeping Central Michigan last Friday at home, the Huskies claimed their MAC season opener for just the second time in 10 years under Gooden.
Huskie Hold Their Own
The opening weekend's NIU Invitational featured three 2010 NCAA Tournament Teams that received votes in the 2011 AVCA Preseason Poll: Cincinnati (Received 22 votes), No. 18 Iowa State, and No. 14 Northern Iowa. The Huskies swept Cincinnati and hung tough with ISU and UNI, scoring under 20 points in only two of seven sets against the top 20 duo and claiming the first set against ISU, 25-21. NIU also held its opponents at the invite to a .253 attack percentage while the Huskies hit .280.
NIU Invitational All-Tournament
The sophomore duo of Sarah Angelos and Lauren Wicinski earned all-tournament honors at the NIU Invitational. Angelos totaled 30 kills and six blocks in the four matches, while Wicinski notched 76 kills, 45 digs, nine blocks and five aces.
Wiz Captures First MAC West Offensive Player of the Week Honor of 2011
Just like she did last season, Lauren Wicinski garnered the first Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week honor of the year, the league announced Aug. 30. In four matches at the NIU Invitational, she earned an all-tournament selection as she compiled MAC-best 5.43 kills per set with a .312 hitting percentage and five aces.
And She Goes Back-To-Back A Month Later
After a stellar performance in the MAC opening weekend, Lauren Wicinski grabbed her second MAC West Offensive Player of the Week award Sept. 26 as she totaled 48 kills (6.86/set) and hit .287 with four aces in two matches. She then topped those numbers in NIU's first MAC road weekend, totaling 64 kills (7.11/set) with a .420 hitting percentage, 29 digs and six aces in two matches, including a career-high 39-kill performance against Toledo. For her efforts, she was named MAC West Offensive Player of the Week on Monday to extend her school career record total to eight selections.
CVU.com Recognizes Wiz's Big Week
A day after being named Mid-American Conference West Division Player of the Week, Lauren Wicinski was named one of 11 Top Performers for the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2 by Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU.com). Becoming the second Huskie to earn the honor (Meagan Schoenrock, 2008), Wicinski's 39 kills versus Toledo was one shy of the NIU record set in 1999, six short of the MAC record and most in the league since 2003, and eight away from the NCAA record established in 1997.
Countdown to 1,000 Kills
Through just 53 matches during her sophomore year, Lauren Wicinski is already closing in on becoming the 17th Huskie to reach the 1,000-kill plateau. She currently has 986 kills, needing 14 more to reach 1,000. At her pace of 19.44 kills per match, she could get the milestone kill in the next match or two. When she does tally No. 1,000, she will be the fastest in NIU history to get there.
NIU has outhit its opponents this season to the tune of .278-.230. The Huskies are 11-1 when they outhit their opponents and 2-4 when they do not. The two wins came at Green Bay (Aug. 30) and at Milwaukee (Sept. 6). The lone loss came at Ball State (Sept. 30). The hitting edge has led to a 15.05-12.65 kills discrepancy for NIU.
Huskies Win Bluejay Invitational
On Sept. 2-3, the Huskies went 3-0 to claim the Bluejay Invitational title. NIU took down host Creighton 3-0, Marquette 3-1, and South Dakota 3-0. Lauren Wicinski took home tournament MVP and Kristin Hoffman was named to the all-tournament team as well. Wicinski totaled 49 kills, 31 digs and seven aces during the tournament, while Hoffman handed out 121 assists along with netting 19 digs and eight kills.
On Sept. 10, the Huskies wrapped up an eight-match, 12-day road swing with an impressive 7-1 record. The lone loss came to Texas A&M on the second-to-last match of the trip during Stephen F. Austin's Ladyjack Invitational. Lauren Wicinski (35 kills, nine digs, three aces, two blocks) and Kristin Hoffman (85 assists, 15 digs) were named to the all-tournament team for their outstanding efforts at SFA.
NIU Receives Votes In AVCA Top 25 For First Time Since 2001
For the first time since 2001, the Huskies received votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 Poll, as voted on by the nation's coaches. NIU received six votes in the September 5th poll.
Despite a tough loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 10, the Huskies received four votes in the September 12th and September 19th polls to remain in the top 25 mix for three straight weeks. Three of NIU's five losses this season have been to No. 12 Northern Iowa, No. 16 Iowa State, and Texas A&M, who received nine votes in the latest poll.
Leaders of the MAC
As of Oct. 3, the Huskies, who were the Mid-American Conference coaches' preseason pick to win the league, lead the MAC in kills (15.05/set), hitting percentage (.278), assists (14.02/set), and aces (1.54/set). They also rank third in digs (15.63/set).
Individually, Lauren Wicinski, the reigning MAC Freshman and Player of the Year, leads the league in points (6.56/set), kills (5.65/set) and aces (0.63/set), and is sixth in hitting percentage (.326). Kristin Hoffman paces the MAC in assists (12.27/set). Sarah Angelos is eighth in the league in hitting percentage (.321). Amber Walker ranks eighth in digs (3.73/set).
Leading the Country
As of Oct. 3, NIU leads the NCAA in kill and assists, ranks eighth in hitting percentage. The Huskies also rank 44th in aces and 96th in digs.
Individually, Lauren Wicinski leads the nation in points and kills, and is fourth in aces. Kristin Hoffman also leads the nation in assists.
The Broncos have won four of their last five matches and are 13-4 overall, 3-1 in the MAC. Like the Huskies did last weekend, WMU lost at Ball State. Both teams have wins over Milwaukee and South Florida as common opponents. Both teams have also already played home matches against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. WMU swept both while the Huskies fell to EMU. On the season, WMU holds significant advantages over its foes in kills (14.58-12.53), hitting percentage (.225-.183), aces (1.05-0.74), and digs (18.98-16.85).
Western Michigan leads the all-time series over the Huskies 30-16 and won the last meeting between the two in five sets in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Nov. 4.
The RedHawks enter the weekend with a 12-6 mark, 3-1 in MAC play, and have won three of their last four matches. Miami is 3-3 on the road. The RedHawks own edges over their opponents in hitting percentage (.224-.177).
Miami holds a slim 17-16 advantage in the all-time tilt with NIU. But the Huskies have won each of the last three meetings, including a 3-2 victory on the road last season on Oct. 3, 2010.
The Huskies hit the road for matches at Akron and Buffalo next week. NIU will take on Akron at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, and Buffalo at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15.