VOLLEYBALL--- Northern Illinois University vs. Marshall University
/ at DeKalb, IL / Victor E. Court / Mid-American Conference match
/ Friday / October 8, 2004
MARSHALL defeats NORTHERN ILLINOIS 3-2 (23-30, 30-26, 30-25, 30-32,
rally comes up just short as Huskie Volleyball drops five-game match
at home to Marshall
DeKALB, IL-With victory in its grasp, the Northern Illinois University
women's volleyball team just couldn't quite close Marshall University
out. The Huskies battled back from a 26-22 deficit to steal game
four, and led by as many as five points in the fifth game before
allowing the Thundering Herd to come back and take a thrilling 3-2
(23-30, 30-26, 30-25, 30-32, 18-16) contest at NIU's Victor E. Court
Friday (Oct. 8).
Sophomore Kate McCullagh (Woodstock) racked up 20 kills and
eight total blocks while hitting a blistering .425 (20 kills-3 errors-40
attempts), but it still wasn't enough to keep the Huskies from falling
to 7-11 overall with a 2-3 mark in Mid-American Conference play.
Marshall moves to 10-6 on the season with a 3-1 MAC slate behind
30 kills and 10 digs from freshman Kelly-Anne Billingy.
"This seems to be the story of our entire season," Huskie
head coach Ray Gooden surmised. "We are playing some
really good volleyball in spurts. We just need to find a way to
turn those one or two points that we always need to sway the outcome
of the match."
It didn't look like things were going to be that close when MU---already
leading the match two games to one and on its way to racking up
27 game-four kills---scored four of five points at one point to
grab a 26-22 advantage. Senior Tera Lobdell (Plymouth, MN
/ Robbinsdale Armstrong) was not about to let the match end, however,
scoring four of the next five points via two blocks and a pair of
kills to close the gap to 27-26. A Lobdell service ace finally pulled
NIU even at 28-28, and the Huskies had first crack at game point
after a Herd attack error pushed the hosts to a 29-28 lead.
Billingy tried to keep her team in it, fending off two game points
with kills before the Huskie defense finally overwhelmed Marshall.
McCullagh notched a solo block on the MU freshman to make it a 31-30
Huskie lead before pairing up with Corinne Walsh (Evergreen
Park) to stuff Amber Sims and force the fifth and deciding game.
The Huskie momentum carried over to that fifth game in the form
of a 7-2 lead after three more kills and another ace from Lobdell.
NIU kept fighting off Marshall runs, eventually climbing to a 13-10
lead on a tandem block by McCullagh and Megan Markowski (Glen
Ellyn / Wheaton St. Francis), but three straight Herd points evened
things up for the first time since a 2-2 deadlock. The race to a
two-point lead was on.
Northern Illinois got first crack at match point after a Billingy
error, but MU responded with a tandem block to tie the game back
up at 14-14. Another Marshall stuff game the visitors the first
of their three chances to seal the match, but two ball-handling
errors pulled the teams even at 15-15 and 16-16. A Christin Bimberg
kill gave Marshall another one-point lead at 17-16, and yet another
MU block closed off the dramatic victory.
Lobdell finished the night atop the team chart with 26 kills, 15
digs, and three service aces on her way to a 34-point night. The
senior also chipped in with seven total blocks including three solos
to help lead a solid Northern Illinois blocking effort. As a team,
NIU set a season high with 20.5 total stuffs led by nine (three
solos) from Markowski. The hosts lost the battle at the net on the
other side of the ball, however, as Marshall racked up 88 kills
to just 68 for Northern Illinois. MU also out-dug the Huskies 75-58.
"We blocked the ball alright tonight," Gooden said. "But
again, it was in spurts. Across the board, we just have to find
a way to play consistent volleyball from start to finish."
Northern Illinois has no time to reflect on the five-game heartbreaker
as the Huskies return to action Saturday (Oct. 9) when Bowling Green
State University comes to town for a 7:00 p.m. (CDT) match. NIU
will be looking to avenge a 3-1 loss suffered at BGSU hands at Andersen
Arena just two weeks ago (Sept. 25).
---Friday (Oct. 8) marked the first time two Huskies had 20 or more
kills in the same match since Oct. 18, 2003, when Megan Markowski
(24) and Tera Lobdell (20) teamed up in a 3-1 loss at Bowling
Green State University.
McCullagh had arguably her best single game of the season to
start play Friday (Oct. 8). The sophomore scored nine total points
in the night's opening stanza behind seven kills at a gaudy .667
(7-1-9) clip. McCullagh was 6-0-6 to start the night.
Illinois was out-killed 27-14 in game four, but still managed to
pull out a 32-30 win.