Redbirds Take on NIU in Home Opener Tuesday
Sept. 1, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State volleyball team (1-2) will open its home schedule Tuesday, when the Redbirds take on in-state rival Northern Illinois (2-1) at Redbird Arena beginning at 7:05 p.m. Prior to the match, the 2007 NCAA Tournament qualifying team will be recognized in a banner-raising presentation. ISU's players will also be holding an autograph session at the conclusion of the match.
"We're excited about the opportunity to play in front of our home crowd against one of our rivals (Tuesday)," said head coach Melissa Myers. "Northern Illinois is an experienced team, and will present a great challenge for us. They had a good showing at their home tournament last weekend, picking up two wins in straight sets, including one against Cleveland State, who was picked to win their conference this season.
"We want to build on what we learned this past weekend. This match presents another opportunity for our players to prepare for conference play as they continue to develop their ability to compete, to make good decisions, and to adapt to in-game situations against a team that will be ready to compete in Redbird Arena."
The Huskies defeated both Chicago State and Cleveland State, before being swept by UConn, at last weekend's NIU Invite. 2007 All-Mid-American Conference second-team middle blocker Megan Schoenrock compiled a team-high 44 kills (4.89 kills per set) in the tournament, and was selected to the all-tournament team, along with freshman outside hitter/middle blocker Allison McGlaughlin. As a team, NIU hit .310 in its first three matches of the year, accumulating 128 kills for an average of 14.22 per set.
The Huskies return 12 letterwinners, including four starters, from a team that went 14-18 (8-9 MAC) and finished fourth in the MAC's West Division last season. Schoenrock averaged 3.72 kills per game in 2007, including 13 matches with 15-or-more kills.
Led by all-tournament selection Mallory Leggett, the Redbirds finished in third-place at last weekend's Panther Invitational in Milwaukee. The Redbirds opened the tournament with consecutive setbacks against 2007 NCAA Tournament participants Iowa State and Ole Miss, but defeated host Milwaukee in the tournament finale Saturday. Leggett averaged 3.7 kills per set in the tournament, including a season-best 19 kills against the Panthers.
Junior libero Kasey Mollerus enters Tuesday's match with 1,200 career digs, and is just two away from moving into third-place on the all-time career digs list at ISU.
The Redbirds own a 31-18 all-time combined record against Northern Illinois. ISU and the Huskies have met in non-conference play in each of the last nine seasons. Tuesday's contest kicks-off a four-match homestand for Illinois State, which will host the Redbird Classic at Redbird Arena Friday and Saturday. The `Birds will take on Western Carolina, Oakland and Western Michigan in the tournament.