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NIU Volleyball captures Bluejay Invitational title

September 4, 2011

Lauren Wicinski

Sophomore Lauren Wicinski earned tournament MVP honors at the Bluejay Invitational hosted by Creighton University during the Labor Day weekend.

With a 3-0 win over South Dakota, the Northern Illinois women’s volleyball team won Creighton’s Bluejay Invitational Saturday night at D.J. Sokol Arena.  The Huskies (6-2) used a .250-.155 hitting and 8-4 blocking edge to take down the Coyotes (1-6) for their fourth straight victory.

“South Dakota did a really good job with their system when they were in it,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden.  “We did a good job with serving and ball control to get them out of it and control the match like we wanted to.”

NIU capitalized on 18 USD hitting errors while holding a 41-35 kills advantage in the match.  Another factor that helped the Huskies was an 8-2 aces advantage, led by a career-high five from Mary Kurisch.

“We continued to serve well, as we’ve done all weekend,” Gooden said.  “It was great for Mary to have a run form the serving line tonight.”

Leading the way for the offense was Sarah Angelos, who had nine kills and hit .350.  Chipping in with eight kills apiece were Lauren Wicinski and Allison McGlaughlin, who led NIU with 12 digs.  Kristin Hoffmandished out 33 assists in running the offense.

Amber Walkeralso reached double figures in digs with 10, extending her streak to five matches with 10 or more digs.

Trailing 10-4 in the first set, the Huskies rallied to knot the game at 15 to force a South Dakota timeout.  After the teams exchanged points, Kurisch served up an ace and Meghan Romotallied a kill.  Then Romo and Angelos teamed for a block and a Coyote error gave NIU a 20-16 lead that the Huskies rode to a 25-20 win.

Tied 11-11 in the second set, the Huskies turned up the heat with a 14-6 run to end the set 25-17.  During the spurt, Angelos had two kills and a block to help NIU take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

After the Huskies led most of the third set, USD overcame a six-point deficit to tie the score at 21.  Out of an NIU timeout, a combo block from Romo and Kurisch put the Huskies up again.  Then a USD attack error and Kurisch ace forced the Coyotes to take a timeout.  But the break would go for naught as McGlaughlin ended the match, 25-21, with a kill.

With the tournament win came a pair of individual honors for NIU.  Both Wicinski and Hoffman were named to the all-tournament team.  Wicinski did one better as she was named the tournament MVP, totaling 49 kills, 31 digs and seven aces.  Hoffman handed out 121 assists along with netting 19 digs and eight kills.

“Those two, along with the whole team, did a good job of playing team volleyball,” Gooden said.  “It’s nice to have those two recognized as part of our team effort.”

Next up for NIU is a trip north to face Milwaukee at 7:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday, September 6.