Nov. 16, 2007
Toledo, Ohio - The Northern Illinois volleyball team heads into their Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinal match against Ohio (23-4, 15-1) on a three-match winning streak, looking to defeat Ohio and the Bobcat's 13-match unbeaten streak. The Huskies (14-17, 7-9) and Bobcats will begin action on Friday, November 16 at 7:30 p.m. EST in Toledo, Ohio.
"In one regard, (the winning streak) is a positive thing, but in order to be here (at the MAC Tournament), you have to have won," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "The slate is clean and we are going to try our best to make it a positive result tomorrow."
The Huskies will be led by Second Team All-MAC honoree sophomore Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, Ohio / Northview), who averages a MAC sixth-best 3.72 kills per game. Right behind Schoenrock is junior Irene Johnson (Schaumburg, Ill. / Schaumburg), an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Second Team selection, who has a MAC seventh-best tally of 3.71 kills per game. Senior Mandi Caputo (Chicago, Ill. / Immaculate Heart of Mary / DePaul) helps set-up Schoenrock and Johnson with 12.70 assists per game, which ranks her second in the conference.
Defensively, NIU averages a MAC best 20.10 digs per game, led by freshman Maddie Hughes (St. Charles, Ill. / North). Hughes patrols the court with a conference third-best 5.47 digs per game, while Jessica Schultz (Beaver Dam, Wis. / Beaver Dam / Kishwaukee C.C.) commands the net by averaging 1.07 blocks a game, which ranks her fifth in the conference.
"We need to play a very consistent and very smart match against Ohio," said Gooden.
Ohio comes to the match with the MAC's best offense and defense. The Bobcats lead the conference in hitting percentage (.332), kills (17.80), and assists (16.55) per game. Ohio also leads the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.162) and blocks (2.59) per game. Melissa Griffin leads the Bobcats with 4.75 kills a game (second in MAC) and Michelle Jantsch averages a team-high 9.18 assists. Jane Sytsma and Griffin lead the Ohio defense with 1.06 blocks a game (seventh in MAC).
"Ohio is a great team," Gooden said. "They are the best in our conference across the board. They are the best possible challenge."
Live stats will be available on MAC-Sports.com. The winner of the match will go on to the semifinals to face the winner of the fourth-seeded Bowling Green and fifth-seeded Kent State quarterfinal match on Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m EST.