Behind a solid .319 hitting percentage, the Northern Illinois women’s volleyball team won its season opener at the annual NIU Invitational in a 3-1 decision over IUPUI Friday afternoon at Victor E. Court.
Conversely, the Huskies (1-0) held the Jaguars (0-1) to a .160 hitting percentage and tallied eight blocks as a team to cruise to a 25-18, 25-15, 19-25, 25-13 win. The triumph improved the Huskies to 9-1 in season and home openers under 10th-year head coach Ray Gooden.
Reigning Mid-American Conference Player and Freshman of the Year Lauren Wicinski paced the Huskies with 23 kills (.383 hitting percentage) and 11 digs for her 17th career double-double. She added three aces and blocks as well. Mary Kurisch also reached double figures in kills with 10 (.304 hitting percentage), while Kristin Hoffman ran the offense with 49 assists.
Defensively, Allison McGlaughlin was one of three Huskies to have 10 or more digs with 20. Sue Hayes chipped in with 12 in her first appearance as libero. On the net, Kurisch notched an NIU-high six blocks.
With the scored tied 7-7 in the first set, five straight kills from Hoffman, Meghan Romo, Wicinski, McGlaughlin, and Wicinski sparked the Huskies to a 25-18 win. NIU did nearly the same thing at the same point in the second set. Tied 7-7, NIU used a 5-1 run to grab a 2-0 lead before the break. During the spurt, kills by Hoffman and Romo supplemented three IUPUI errors.
In the third set, the Jaguars broke a 6-6 tie with a 9-3 run that included five kills by Moriah Fair. The Huskies climbed within three points, 19-16, following back-to-back aces by Wicinski but could not get any closer as IUPUI avoided a possible sweep.
Knotted at 6-6 in the fourth set, NIU used a 15-4 run to put away the Jaguars. Wicinski’s three kills and solo block fueled the run.
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