Coming into Northern Illinois University as the volleyball program’s first high school All-American might have put some pressure on freshman outside hitter Lauren Wicinski to perform at a high level quickly.
Whether she felt the pressure or not, the Geneva, Ill., native showed why she was a 2009 Under Armour All-American by winning the Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week honor in her first weekend of collegiate competition.
“I thought Lauren had an outstanding performance in her first collegiate weekend,” said ninth-year NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “Not only did she have positive results as an attacker, but she had a near career weekend from the serving line. It’s great for her to get recognized by the conference for her outstanding play. And it’s great for our program to receive this recognition after such a positive weekend.”
The Geneva High School product led the Huskies with 86.5 points (5.77/set), 63 kills (4.20/set), and a whopping 18 aces (1.20/set) as she helped the team go 4-0 to win the NIU Invitational, earning an all-tournament selection. She also hit .274, with four assists, eight blocks, 34 digs (2.27/set), had only two errors in 55 reception attempts, and notched two double-doubles.
In a sweep of Chicago State, she hit .500 with nine kills, six aces, and three blocks for 17.5 points. In a four-set win over Oakland, she had 17 kills, 14 digs, two aces, and one block for 19.5 points. In a sweep of South Dakota, she totaled 15 kills with a .345 attack percentage, five aces, and two blocks for 21.5 points. In a five-set win over 2009 NCAA Tournament qualifier College of Charleston, she tallied 22 kills, 15 digs, five aces, and two blocks for 28 points.
Off to their best start since 2003, the Huskies (4-0) return to Victor E. Court at 7 p.m. today to host the Bradley Braves (2-1).
The Huskies will look to change that “best start since” year to 1998 as they wrap up a season-opening five-match home stand with an unblemished record thus far. Back in 1998, NIU started 7-0 and would go on to play in the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies enter the match after a 4-0 run to win the NIU Invitational over the weekend, winning 12 of 15 sets. The tournament was highlighted by an exciting five-set victory over 2009 NCAA Tournament qualifier College of Charleston, in which the Huskies ended the fifth set with seven straight points. NIU also took down Chicago State and South Dakota in three set, while using four sets to defeat Oakland.
Bradley comes to Victor E. Court after hosting a tournament of their own over the weekend. The Braves went 2-1 to tie for the best record in the Hotels at Grand Prairie Invitational, but took second place after losing to Southeast Missouri State in four sets in the finale, giving the 2-1 Redhawks the tiebreaker. In its two wins, BU swept Western Illinois and beat South Carolina-Upstate in five sets.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.