Huskies Wrap MAC Play this Weekend Hoping for West Crown

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES

Nov. 9, 2011

DeKALB, Ill. - With a season-long, 11-match winning streak, the Northern Illinois women's volleyball team will wrap up Mid-American Conference regular season play with a pair of road matches this weekend. The Huskies (23-5, 12-2 MAC) will take on Western Michigan (23-5, 12-2 MAC) Thursday, Nov. 10, at 6 PM CT for a chance to grab the MAC West regular season crown and No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament. NIU will then finish with a 1 PM contest versus Bowling Green (19-9, 6-8 MAC) Saturday, Nov. 12.

How To Follow
Live stats and streaming video will be available for the Western Michigan match on WMUBroncos.com. Live stats and streaming video will be available on BGSUFalcons.com for the Bowling Green match.

MAC Top Spot Up For Grabs
Thursday's match between NIU and WMU will break the current tie atop the MAC West Division standings and give the winner a great chance to grab the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament. If the Huskies win, they will be crowned as the MAC West champions for the first time since 2006.

Streaking
With last Saturday's win over Ball State, not only did the Huskies end a five-game losing streak to the Cardinals, but they extended their season-long winning streak to 11 matches. The current streak ties last year's longest as NIU opened up the season with 11 straight victories. The double-digit streak is the ninth in program history and is seven short of tying the record (18) that was set in 2001, which is the last time NIU won the MAC Tournament.

Huskies Remain In The Top 20 RPI Rankings
Three weeks ago, NIU stood at 26th in the initial RPI rankings of the 2011 season and two weeks ago moved up three spots to No. 23. Last week, the Huskies were up three spots again to No. 20. This week, NIU is up another spot to No. 19. NIU is the highest-ranked MAC team as Western Michigan is 26th. Ball State (34), Ohio (52), and Eastern Michigan (67) are also in the top 100. RPI stands for Rating Percentage Index and is a quantity used to rank teams based upon wins, losses and strength of schedule.

Hoffman Approaching 4,000th Assist
During last Friday's win over Toledo, Kristin Hoffman achieved her 4,000th career assist. She is just the third player in Huskie history to reach the milestone.

McGlaughlin Joins Rare 1,000-1,000 Club
With the first of six digs in Oct. 21's win over Kent State, Allison McGlaughlin became the 14th Huskie in program history to tally 1,000 career digs. Last year, she was the 17th Huskie to reach 1,000 career kills. With over 1,000 career kills and digs, she is only the ninth player in NIU lore to join the exclusive 1,000-Kills, 1,000-Digs Club.

McGlaughlin's 1,370 kills rank fifth all-time at NIU. She is 114 kills away from Amber Howard (1995-98) for fourth place. Her 1,053 digs rank 11th, 47 away from Anne Polaski (1984-87) for 10th place.

20-20 Vision
NIU's 3-1 win at Eastern Michigan Oct. 28 marked the Huskies' 20th of the season, giving Head Coach Ray Gooden his fourth 20-win season in 10 years at NIU and second straight. Overall, the Huskies have posted 21 seasons at or above the 20-win mark since their first year of volleyball in 1970.

10-10 Vision
The Huskies' 3-1 win at Central Michigan Oct. 29 gave NIU 10 MAC wins on the year, marking Gooden's third season with double-digit conference wins and second straight.

Huskies Stand Unbeaten Against East Division
NIU is 5-0 against the MAC East Division after avenging last year's MAC championship loss to the Ohio on Oct. 22. The Huskies have lost just two of 17 sets to the East, both coming at Akron.

Wiz In The National Spotlight
Three weeks ago, the nation's kills and points leader Lauren Wicinski was featured in Volleyball Voices, the Chicago Tribune, and Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd." Check the Huskie Happenings (http://www.niuhuskies.com/blog/) blog for links to the features.

Wiz Becomes Fastest In MAC History To 1,000 Kills
Lauren Wicinski needed just 54 matches to become the 18th member of NIU's 1,000 Kill Club as she tallied the milestone kill in the second set in a 3-0 win over Western Michigan on Oct. 6. Not only did she become the fastest Huskie to reach 1,000 kills, she also became the fastest in MAC history to achieve the milestone. Fittingly, she had one of the best performances of her young career in the match, totaling 25 kills on 36 swings with only one error for a career-high .667 hitting percentage. With 1,167 career kills, Wicinski ranks 15th all-time at NIU.

Hoffman Assists Third Huskie To 1,000th Kill
With her assist on Lauren Wicinski's 1,000th career kill on Oct. 8, Kristin Hoffman set up the 1,000th kill for a Huskie for the third time in her career. The senior has also assisted the milestone kill for classmate Allison McGlaughlin and Meagan Schoenrock (2006-09). The last Huskie to accomplish the feat was 2011 NIU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Shelby Snyder (1991-94), who set the 1,000th kill for five different Huskies.

Wiz Captures MAC West Offensive Player of the Week Hat Trick
From Sept. 26 to Oct. 10, the name that appeared on the MAC West Offensive Player of the Week award was Lauren Wicinski. After a stellar performance in the MAC opening weekend, Lauren Wicinski grabbed her second MAC weekly award on 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 earned the honor again on Oct. 3. On Oct. 10, she garnered the recognition for the fourth time this season to extend her school career record total to nine selections. All she did was pick up her 1,000th career kill while leading NIU with 38 kills (6.33/set), hitting .414, and racking up six aces in a pair of Huskie wins.

Leaders of the MAC
As of Nov. 7, the Huskies, who were the Mid-American Conference coaches' preseason pick to win the league, lead the MAC in kills (15.25/set), hitting percentage (.286), assists (14.16/set), and aces (1.51/set). They also rank fourth in digs (15.68/set).

Individually, Lauren Wicinski, the reigning MAC Freshman and Player of the Year, leads the league in points (6.42/set), kills (5.53/set) and aces (0.61/set), and is seventh in hitting percentage (.319). Kristin Hoffman paces the MAC in assists (12.42/set). Sarah Angelos is second in the league in hitting percentage (.356) and Mary Kurisch is eighth (.318). Amber Walker ranks eighth in digs (3.90/set).

Leading the Country
As of Nov. 7, NIU leads the NCAA in kills and assists and is fifth in hitting percentage. The Huskies also rank 19th in winning percentage (.821), and 42nd in aces.

Individually, Lauren Wicinski leads the nation in points and kills, and is third in aces. Kristin Hoffman also leads the nation in assists, while Sarah Angelos is 41st in hitting percentage.

Scouting Western Michigan
The Broncos sport the same exact record as the Huskies at 23-5 and 12-2 in the MAC, and have a 10-match winning streak since falling to NIU on Oct. 6 and Ball State on Oct. 5. WMU is 11-1 at home with the lone loss coming in the home opener against North Carolina Sept. 2. The Broncos hold edges over their foes in kills (14.66-12.78), hitting percentage (.240-.183), aces (0.94-0.71), digs (18.59-16.47), and blocks (1.93-1.67).

WMU leads the all-time series 30-17, but the Huskies took the last meeting in three sets this season on Oct. 6 at Victor E. Court.

Scouting Bowling Green
The Falcons are 19-9, 6-8 in MAC play, and since winning their first 12 matches have gone 7-9. BGSU is 6-4 at home this season. When matched up against their opponents, the Falcons hold edges in kills (13.58-12.22), hitting percentage (.248-.217), aces (1.34-1.31), and digs (12.90-12.30).

NIU leads the all-time series 21-9 and won the last meeting 3-0 on Nov. 6, 2010, at Victor E. Court.

Efficient Edge
NIU has outhit its opponents this season to the tune of .286-.219. The Huskies are 21-1 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 15.25-12.48 kills discrepancy for NIU.

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.

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. 13 Iowa State, and Texas A&M, who received 10 votes in the latest poll.

Road Warriors
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. Currently, NIU is 10-1 on the road with the lone loss coming at Ball State on Sept. 30 in a tough five-set decision. The last time the Huskies finished a season with just one road loss was in the 1972-73 campaign, when NIU ended with a 5-1 mark.

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.

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.

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 Sept. 23 at home, the Huskies claimed their MAC season opener for just the second time in 10 years under Gooden.

Gooden Plenty
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 179-134 record at NIU, including a 111-91 mark in MAC play and an impressive 102-54 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. Five players have also reached the 1,000-kill plateau under Gooden: Tara Lobdell, Kate McCullagh (1,936 kills, second in MAC history), Meagan Schoenrock, Allison McGlaughlin, and Lauren Wicinski.

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.

Next Up
The Huskies head to Geneva, Ohio, for the MAC Tournament Nov. 18-20 at SPIRE Institute.

-NIU-