Huskies Ready for Last Weekend of MAC Regular Season Play

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Nov. 7, 2012

DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team ends the Mid-American Conference regular season this weekend with a road match at Western Michigan (18-9, 11-3 MAC) Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6 PM CT and home match against Bowling Green (17-9, 12-2 MAC) Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 PM on senior night. The Huskies (18-12, 9-5 MAC) are 7-6 on the road and 7-4 at home this season.

The Last Meeting
Western Michigan3
Northern Illinois0
October 4, 2012
DeKalb, Ill.
Huskies Drop 3-0 Match to Western Michigan
In a tussle for sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference West Division, it was Western Michigan who proved to be the better team Thursday night at Victor E. Court after defeating Northern Illinois in three close, hard-fought sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21. The loss dropped the Huskies to 12-9, 3-2 in league play, while the Broncos improved to 11-6, 4-1 in conference action.

The Last Meeting
Bowling Green0
Northern Illinois3
November 18, 2011
Geneva, Ohio
Huskies Sweep Bowling Green to Advance to MAC Semifinals
The No. 1-seeded Northern Illinois volleyball team swept No. 8 Bowling Green in its Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals match at SPIRE Institute Friday afternoon to advance to the semifinals tomorrow.

How to Follow
Both matches will have live stats and video available. The WMU match will have live stats and video through WMUBroncos.com. The BGSU match will have and video through NIUHuskies.com.

Notes from NIU's Perfect 2-0 Road Weekend
NIU went 2-0 on the road last weekend with a 3-1 win at Toledo and 3-0 win at Ball State to give the Huskies a three-match winning streak ... The Huskies 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 ... NIU's 18 blocks were the most the Huskies have had since Ray Gooden took over in 2002 ... The Huskies earned their fourth straight win over the Cardinals by holding .352-.217 hitting, 55-39 kills and 57-47 digs advantages ... The sweep was NIU's first in Muncie since 1990 ... The .300 hitting match was NIU's seventh of the year ... Senior libero Amber Walker led the defense with 42 digs (6.00/set) and just one reception error in 43 attempts ... Senior middle blocker Mary Kurisch led the offense as she hit a team-high .468 and averaged 3.29 kills per set and 4.57 points per set.

MAC Standings Update
NIU currently stands second in the MAC West Division and fourth in the league overall. If the eight-team MAC Tournament were to start today, fourth-seeded NIU would take on fifth-seeded Akron in the first round. Ohio currently leads the league overall and MAC East Division, while Western Michigan is first in the MAC West.

Senior Night for NIU's Five Seniors
Saturday's match will mark the last home match for seniors Sam Grams (Forest Park, Ill./Fenwick), Sue Hayes (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mother McAuley), Mary Kurisch (La Crosse, Wis./West Salem), Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) and Amber Walker (Juneau Douglas, Alaska/Juneau Douglas/Western Oregon).

Grams has totaled 63.5 points, 40 blocks and 28 kills in 44 career matches, and has a career-high 35 blocks and 28 kills this season. She has also sang the National Anthem at nearly every home match of her career and has been a Victory Scholar (3.50 GPA or better) each year. Hayes has amassed 703 digs and 45 aces in 122 career matches, and a career-high 264 digs and 16 aces this season. She, too, has been a Victory Scholar each year. Kurisch, a first team All-MAC selection last year and preseason All-MAC selection this year, ranks ninth all-time at NIU in blocks with 387 and is one kill shy of becoming the 19th member of the NIU 1,000 Kill Club. In 128 career matches, she has an NIU all-time fourth-best .301 attack percentage. She has also been a Victory Scholar each year. Romo has tallied 777 kills168 digs and 131 blocks in 98 career matches, and has a career-best 376 kills, 109 digs and eight aces this season. She has been a Huskie Scholar (3.00-3.49 GPA) each year. Walker has been named MAC West Defensive Player of the Week twice in her career and has the 15th most digs in NIU history with 986, along with 41 aces in 63 career matches. She has a career-high 503 digs this season.

Scouting Western Michigan
Western Michigan 18-9, 11-3 in MAC play, and has won four straight matches since losing at Ohio on Oct. 20. The Broncos are 6-0 at home this season and enter the match after a 3-0 win at Ball State and 3-1 win at Toledo last weekend. WMU nets 14.40 kills per set and hits .232 while totaling 17.41 digs and 1.69 blocks per set.

WMU leads the all-time series 31-18, but NIU has won two of the last three. Earlier this season, the Broncos won 3-0 in DeKalb on Oct. 4.

Scouting Bowling Green
Bowling Green is 17-9, 12-2 in MAC play, and has won four of its last five matches. The Falcons are 6-4 on the road and come into the weekend following a 3-2 win over Buffalo and 3-1 win over Akron at home last weekend. BGSU averages 13.40 kills per set and hits .208. Defensively, the Falcons average 15.75 digs and 2.28 blocks per set.

NIU leads the all-time series 23-9 and has won each of the last three meetings, including a 3-0 win last season on Nov. 18, 2011 in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament in Geneva, Ohio.

Gooden Earns Career Win No. 200
The 3-0 win over Central Michigan on Oct. 27 marked NIU Head Coach Ray Gooden's 200th career win - all with NIU - and made him just the second in Huskie history to reach the 200-win plateau. Gooden ranks second all-time on the NIU wins list, 66 victories behind leader Pete Waite (1988-98).

NIU Stands 124th in Sixth NCAA RPI Rankings
In the NCAA's sixth RPI Rankings, the Huskies are 124th out of 330 Division I teams. The highest MAC school is Ohio (56) and the lowest is Miami (OH) (239). Four of league's teams are in the top 100 - Ohio (56), Bowling Green (59), Western Michigan (73) and Eastern Michigan (94).

MAC Leaders
As a team, the Huskies rank third in the MAC in opponent hitting percentage (.187), fourth in aces (1.24/set) and digs (16.40/set), which is also good for 70th in the nation, and fifth in hitting (.212). Individually, Amber Walker is fourth in digs (4.84/set), which is good for 79th in the nation. Sarah Angelos is third in hitting (.315), Mary Kurisch is seventh in hitting (.296). MacKenzie Roddy is first in aces (0.33/set), which is good for 87th in the nation, and sixth in kills (3.39/set). Alexis Gonzalez is seventh in assists (10.09/set) and seventh in aces (0.27/set). Meghan Romo is fifth in kills (3.42/set).

Roddy Earns NIU's First MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week Award for the Fall
On Oct. 4, MacKenzie Roddy was named the MAC's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Week, which marked the first time she earned the honor in her career and the first time that a Huskie won the honor this fall semester. A sophomore accountancy major with a 3.893 GPA, Roddy led NIU to a perfect 2-0 MAC home opening weekend after being at Victor E. Court for the first time since an 8-6 road trip. She helped the Huskies earn their third straight win over Ball State (3-1) on Sept. 28 as she tallied 15 kills, 12 digs, two blocks, and an assist and ace for 17 points, while hitting a respectable .316. In NIU's third straight win over Toledo (3-0) on Sept. 29, and 12th in the last 14 meetings, Roddy totaled 12 kills, eight digs, two blocks, and hit .333. For the weekend, the San Bernardino, Calif. native averaged 4.43 points, 3.86 kills, 0.57 blocks, 0.14 aces, and hit .323.

Angelos, Walker Sweep MAC West Offensive and Defensive Weekly Honors
On Sept. 11, the Mid-American Conference announced its Players of the Week and the Huskies swept the West Division's honors as Sarah Angelos was named Offensive Player of the Week and Amber Walker was named Defensive Player of the Week. Earning the honor for the first time in her career, Angelos hit .413 with a 3.00 kills per set average and 12 blocks and was named MVP after NIU's 4-0, first-place finish at the Missouri State Invite. Walker, who's earned the honor twice now, was named to Missouri State Invitational All-Tournament Team as well after recording 5.42 digs per game, including a career-high 33-dig effort against MSU.

NIU Season Openers
With a 3-2 win over North Dakota State -- a 2011 NCAA Tournament team - on Aug. 24, NIU improved to 10-1 in season and home openers under Gooden. The Huskies won last year's opener at the NIU Invitational as well, taking down IUPUI in four sets on Aug. 26, 2011.

Kurisch Named to Preseason All-MAC Team
Voted on by the MAC coaches, senior Mary Kurisch was selected to the 2012 Preseason All-MAC Team on Aug. 22. Starting all 35 matches last season, she was a first team All-MAC and honorable mention Academic All-MAC selection as she set career marks for points (378.5), total blocks (109), digs (80), solo blocks (34), and aces (22). She tallied a hitting percentage of .321 to finish second on team and sixth in the MAC, while compiling 20 matches with 10 or more points for the second straight season. Kurisch enters her final season in a Huskie uniform ranking fourth on the all-time NIU career attack percentage list (.303), 14th in total blocks (288), and 17th in blocks per set (0.81). She has 732 career kills (2.05 per set) and has a chance to become NIU's 19th member of the 1,000 Kill Club as she has tallied over 280 kills in each of the last two seasons.

MAC Coaches Pick NIU to Finish 4th in West
Voted on by the MAC coaches, the Huskies were picked to finish fourth in the MAC West Division. NIU was the league's pick to win the regular season and tournament prior to the 2011 season. This year's favorite in the West and overall is Western Michigan.

Gooden Plenty
Entering his 11th season as NIU head coach, 2011 and 2006 MAC Coach of the Year Ray Gooden is coming off his most successful season as he earned his first regular season MAC championship and NCAA appearance at NIU. The program's second all-time wins leader owns a respectable 202-148 record at NIU, including a 122-96 mark in MAC play and an impressive 120-58 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 22 All-MAC, 16 Academic All-MAC, five MAC All-Freshman and five MAC Player of the Year selections, along with the only seven All-American selections in program history. Five players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden.

Social Central
Follow the Huskies all season long on Facebook (Northern Illinois University Volleyball) and Twitter (@NIUVOLLEYBALL | @Raygooden_niu).

On Deck
NIU heads to the MAC Tournament in Geneva, Ohio at SPIRE Institute Nov. 16-18.

-NIU-