Golden Eagles Swept 25-19, 25-22, 25-20 at Northern Illinois
Nov. 26, 2011
DeKalb, Ill. - The Marquette University women's volleyball team was swept 25-19, 25-22, 25-20 by Northern Illinois Saturday afternoon at Victor E. Court in DeKalb, Ill.
The Golden Eagles fall to 23-10 on the season and were led by nine kills apiece from senior outside hitter Ashley Beyer and redshirt junior right-side hitter Holly Mertens. Freshman setter Chelsea Heier had 31 assists for MU, while sophomore libero Julie Jeziorowski had 12 digs to lead the Marquette back row.
"Tonight’s match was tough for us as Northern (Illinois) did a great job of jumping on us early," Marquette head coach Bond Shymansky said. "We didn’t really respond well to the challenge or the environment. Our team needs to play in rhythm and you could just tell we looked like we had taken Thanksgiving Day off. We have got to prepare better for those big-match moments on the road as a staff and make sure that our team can really look that challenge square in the eye and feel good about beating that challenge."
Northern Illinois improves to 28-6 overall and was led by sophomore outside hitter Lauren Wicinski's 12 kills as the Huskies hit .315 in their second win over MU this season. Wicinski also notched 10 digs for a double-double, while senior setter Kristin Hoffman paced NIU's offense with 24 assists.
"We now sit and wait and see what happens with the NCAA tournament selection," Shymansky said. "We know that we are going to be seeing that exact same opportunity and challenge this upcoming weekend because we are going to have to beat somebody on their home court. It’s a tough way to finish it out. Clearly we are playing better volleyball at the end of the season than we did at the beginning but we have to dig a little bit deeper mentally to compete harder as we compete for NCAAs."
Marquette now turns its attention towards Sunday afternoon's NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship Selection Show at 5 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The Golden Eagles are looking to make the 64-team field for the first time in program history.
"These are hard moments because we believe that we should be in (the NCAA tournament), but we believed that last year. There is a pragmatic part and you have to understand that there is a chance that we get overlooked again. Nobody wants that to happen but if we have to have that conversation, we have it. I’m certainly not preparing that speech.
"We are getting ready to work tomorrow night as a staff and all week as a team and go play in the NCAA tournament and win. That is what we are trying to prepare to do. I think we overlooked Northern a little bit and we are really excited for tomorrow’s selection show. We ratcheted up our anxiety level a little after that loss," Shymansky said.
Northern Illinois used a 6-0 run midway through the opening set to take a 17-11 lead before holding on for a 25-19 victory. Wicinski led the Huskies with five kills in the first set as MIU hit .303 as a team. Beyer led MU with four kills in the opening frame.
The Huskies took the second set 25-22 for a 2-0 lead at the intermission after jumping out from a 20-20 tie. Marquette tied the second at 17 on a Danielle Carlson kill before three straight NIU points gave the Huskies a 20-17 edge. A Carlson service ace pulled MU even at 20 before NIU pulled away for the win.
The Golden Eagles led 10-9 in the third set before NIU claimed command of the stanza for a 25-20 final set victory.
Saturday's contest featured the 2011 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, Bond Shymansky, and the 2011 MAC Coach of the Year, Ray Gooden.
Marquette dropped its previous match this season against NIU, 3-1, on Saturday, Sept. 3 at the Bluejay Invitational in Omaha, Neb. The Golden Eagles hit .313 as a team in that contest, led by Ashley Beyer's 18 kills and Bluejay Invitational-record seven service aces. Wicinski led all players with 22 kills.
Marquette entered the match with an RPI ranking of 39, while the Huskies are 17th in the latest standings.