Nov. 8, 2007
DeKalb, Ill. - Looking to finish strong and take momentum into the Mid-American Conference tournament, the Northern Illinois volleyball team will host a pair of matches this weekend at Victor E. Court. The Huskies (11-17, 5-9) will match up with Ball State (5-22, 4-10) on Friday, November 9 at 7 p.m. and Toledo (4-21, 1-13) on Saturday, November 10 at 7 p.m.
"We've had chances to win a lot of the games in the last six matches," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "We just have to be able to play strong, but also pick it up a notch at the end of games. We need to continue to make sure our ball control is sound, pick up our ability to attack in different areas and keep our negative runs at the end of our games to a minimum."
The Huskies are led by sophomore Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio / Northview), who is averaging 3.80 kills per game in MAC competition. Junior Irene Johnson (Schaumburg, Ill. / Schaumburg) adds 3.66 kills per game and senior Laura Baetzel (Chicago, Ill. / Burbank Queen of Peace) adds 3.43. Senior Mandi Caputo continues to lead the MAC in assists with an average of 12.79 per game along with 3.55 digs. Freshman Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill. / North) leads NIU with a MAC third-best 5.49 digs per game.
Friday's match against Ball State is "Camper Reunion Night." All summer camp participants are invited to return to campus and be on the court to high-five the Huskies prior to the announcement of the starting line-ups.
NIU leads the all-time series against the Cardinals 22-21. The Huskies beat BSU 3-2 in Muncie, Ind. on October 6 this season, marking the second time that NIU has won a match in the 15 year history of John E. Worthen Arena.
The Cardinals are led by Julie Breivogel's 2.96 kills per game. Angie Parrell averages a team-high 9.51 assists per game for the BSU offense and Alyssa Rio anchors the defense with 5.08 digs per game.
"Ball State is coming off a winning streak (3-0 win over Toledo and 3-2 win over Akron)," said Gooden. "So, they are feeling pretty confident about what they are doing. Ball State has a solid offense and they serve the ball real well."
Saturday's match with Toledo is "Senior Night" for Huskie seniors Laura Baetzel and Mandi Caputo as well as "Youth Night." All youth in eighth grade and below will be admitted into the game for $1.00 and there will be an autograph session following the match.
Both Friday and Saturday will also be "Toys For Tots Night." Anyone who donates a new, unwrapped toy will pay only $1.00 for admission.
The Huskies lead the all-time series with the Rockets 23-7. NIU defeated Toledo 3-1 on October 5 this season at Toledo, Ohio in the last meeting between the two teams.
The Rockets are led by Katie Westerfeld, who averages a MAC third-best 0.48 service aces per game and 3.24 digs per game for the MAC's fourth-ranked serving offense (1.76 per game). Shannon Strachan adds a team-high 3.18 kills a game and Mallory Ladd averages 9.58 assists per game. Lori Ruth heads the Rocket defense with 3.61 digs a game.
"Toledo is a really good serving team," Gooden said. "They have some good kids on the outside and middle with an ever revolving setter. They are feeling pretty good about their last conference match (3-1 win over Buffalo). We have to be prepared against them."