Huskies Hit Road for Toledo, Ball State

GO HUSKIES Mary Grace Kelly and the Huskies will face Toledo and Ball State this weekend on the road
Mary Grace Kelly and the Huskies will face Toledo and Ball State this weekend on the road

Oct. 10, 2013

Match Notes
UT: Live Stats | Live Streaming
BSU: Live Stats | Live Streaming
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University volleyball team caps off their first swing through the MAC West this weekend when they head to Toledo and Ball State for two big divisional matchups.
The Huskies and Rockets go head-to-head Friday at 6 p.m. inside Savage Arena. The next night, NIU tussles with the BSU Cardinals in Worthen Arena in another 6 p.m. start.
"They are two very capable teams and we've got to be consistent against them, especially at their place," said NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden about UT and BSU. "They both have positive records at home, so we have to do our best to play solid volleyball against them. It's going to be a real good test for our group."
The Huskies are coming off a pair of wins against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan last weekend. Against the Eagles, NIU controlled the net with significant advantages in attack percentage (.209-.131) and kills (58-46). The next night, the Huskies put the clamps down on the Chippewa offense by holding CMU to a .119 hitting percentage and forcing 37 errors in the win.
This weekend offers NIU the chance to solidify themselves as one of the top teams in the MAC West, as they face one team they are currently tied for the division lead with (Ball State) and another that is only one game behind in the standings (Toledo). To make matters even more interesting, Western Michigan - who is tied with NIU and BSU atop the West - also plays the Cardinals and Rockets this weekend, meaning the logjam atop the division will be broken up or further muddled pending Friday and Saturday's results.
Scouting Toledo
One of the surprises early in the MAC season, Toledo currently sits at 9-8 overall and 2-2 in conference, already tying their total numbers of wins in the MAC from last year. The Rockets went 2-0 this past weekend with a 3-1 win against Ball State and a 3-0 sweep at home against Akron, but fell to IPFW, 3-0, on Tuesday night. Individually, the UT offense is led by senior outside hitter Lauren Rafdal's 3.85 kills/set, while fellow seniors Dakota Harkins (2.31 kills/set and .315 attack percentage) and Jordan Kielty (2.00 kills/set) also figure in offensively. Conversely, Harkins and Brooke Frazer pace the defense with 1.06 and 1.05 blocks/set, respectively. NIU leads the all-time series with the Rockets, 35-9, and won both contests against UT in 2012.
Scouting Ball State
Ball State comes in the weekend tied with NIU and Western Michigan for the MAC West lead at 3-1 to go along with a 15-4 overall record. Last weekend, the Cardinals lost to Toledo, 3-1, prior to sweeping the Buffalo Bulls, 3-0. Alex Fuelling leads the potent BSU attack with 3.87 kills/set. Meanwhile, three other Cardinals - Mindy Marx (2.63 kills/set), Hayley Benson (2.35) and Mackenzie Kitchel (2.34) - average 2.30 kills/set or more. That quartet also play a big hand on the Ball State defense, as they hold four of the top five spots among the team's top blockers. Additionally, libero Catie Fredrich ranks fifth in the MAC with 4.65 digs/set. The Huskies maintain a slim 29-27 edge in the all-time series with the Cardinals after earning two wins against BSU last season.
Schepler Reaches Career Milestone
Senior libero Justine Schepler joined some elite company Saturday when she earned her 1,000th career dig in a 3-1 win over the Chippewas. Schepler, who officially reached the mark at the end of the second set, became only the 16th player in program history to eclipse the 1,000-dig mark. Currently, the Sycamore, Ill., native has 1,015 digs in her career and is just 101 from moving into the top 10 in the team's 34 seasons of play. Earlier this year, fellow senior Sarah Angelos became the 20th member of Northern's 1,000-kill club.
Killing Them Softly
Last Thursday night against Western Michigan, the Huskies totaled a season-high 74 kills in a 3-2 win against the Broncos in Kalamazoo. Key to that win were Mackenzie Roddy and Mary Grace Kelly, who totaled 24 and 18 kills, respectively. In fact, their numbers combined accounted for nearly 57 percent of the team's total in kills. Roddy's and Kelly's performances also rank first and third for most kills in a single match this season.
Home, Sweet Home
Victor E. Court has been a rather friendly place for the Huskies in the past and this year is no different. With two wins last weekend against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, NIU boasts a 9-4 mark on their home floor this year and a 43-14 mark - a .754 winning percentage - in DeKalb since the start of the 2010 season. The Huskies have not lost at home to a team ranked outside of the RPI Top 100 since Oct. 26, 2012, when they lost a 3-1 decision to Eastern Michigan.
Chip Clips
The Huskie defense had a sensational night Saturday against Central Michigan. As a team, NIU tied a season high with 18 blocks against the Chippewas and forced 37 CMU errors on the night, equaling the previous best this year of 37 on Sept. 4 against Western Illinois. The Chippewas finished the night with a .119 attack percentage, the lowest mark allowed by the Huskies since limiting Buffalo to .082 on Oct. 12, 2012. It was also the most blocks for NIU in a single MAC match since Nov. 2, 2012, when they had 18 at Toledo.
Block Party
Another intriguing note from Saturday's win over Central Michigan was the play of Jenna Radtke and Emily Paschke. The pair recorded 10 and nine blocks, respectively, during the match and accounted for 9.5 of the Huskies' 18 team blocks. Their performances also rank among the best so far this year in the MAC, as Radtke's mark is tied for fifth-most in a single match and Paschke's is tied for 10th.
Staying Home
After hosting two more matches this weekend, Northern Illinois is tied for the national lead with Butler for the most home matches this season at 13. The Huskies have six more home matches this season for a grand total of 19.
Workin' Overtime
Following Saturday night's marathon fourth set against Central Michigan, the Huskies have now had two sets this year go seven points deep (the first such occurrence happened Sept. 26 in the first set at Western Michigan). This marks the third time since the NCAA adjusted the scoring rules to 25 points per set that the Huskies have had a set go to 32-30 or more. The only other time it happened was Oct. 8, 2010, in the second set against Central Michigan. Since the program started in 1970, only one other match has had a set going seven points deep into overtime (Oct. 27, 1998, at Illinois State, fourth set).
Gooden Plenty
In his 12th season as NIU head coach, Ray Gooden is now the longest-tenured coach in NIU Volleyball history. A three-time MAC Coach of the Year, Gooden has led the Huskies to three consecutive 20-win seasons and has guided the team to the last three MAC Tournament title matches. The program's second all-time wins leader owns a 216-158 record at NIU, including a 105-78 mark in MAC play and an impressive 130-62 tally at home. Additionally, Gooden has coached 25 All-MAC, 19 Academic All-MAC, six MAC All-Freshman and five MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only seven All-American selections in program history. Six players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden.
Up Next...
Northern Illinois enters inter-divisional play next weekend with a trip out east to face Buffalo and Akron. The Huskies take on the Bulls Friday at 6 p.m., then face the Zips Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois3
November 2, 2012
Toledo, Ohio
NIU Earns 3-1 Road Win at Toledo
The Northern Illinois volleyball team started a three-match Mid-American Conference West Division road trip on the right foot with a 25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 25-21 win over Toledo Friday night at Savage Arena. The Huskies (17-12, 8-5 MAC) racked up .225 to .171 hitting, 7-3 aces and 18-5 blocking advantages to earn their 13th win in their last 15 meetings with the Rockets (8-18, 2-11 MAC).

The Last Meeting
Northern Illinois3
Ball State0
November 4, 2012
Muncie, Ind.
Huskies Sweep Ball State for Perfect Road Weekend
Back on the right track, the Northern Illinois volleyball team completed a perfect road weekend with a 25-14, 25-20, 25-21 sweep of Ball State on Sunday afternoon at Worthen Arena in Mid-American Conference West Division action. The Huskies (18-12, 9-5 MAC) earned their fourth straight win over the Cardinals (13-14, 6-8 MAC), and third straight win overall, by holding .352-.217 hitting, 55-39 kills and 57-47 digs advantages.



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