Wicinski’s leads NIU over Broncos

By Abbe Barton

An eruption of applause filled Victor E. Court Thursday evening.

In the second match between NIU (14-5, 3-2 MAC) and Western Michigan (13-5 3-2 MAC), Lauren Wicinski made history.

The Huskies’ outside hitter passed the 1,000 mark for kills in her blossoming young career.

Wicinski became the fastest Huskie to reach the feat.

“It was really amazing,” Wicinski said. “I didn’t really feel like I got that many kills, but it’s just a great feeling. It’s a great accomplishment.”

Wicinski’s historic night highlighted NIU sweeping the Bronco’s 25-20, 27-25, 25-22.

Although the Huskies won against Western Michigan, all three matches were tightly contested.

“I knew our team felt pretty strong coming back out after the second match,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “But we also knew we had to continue to battle, and that’s exactly what we were doing.”

After Wicinski recorded her 1,000th kill in the second match, the Huskies appeared to gain confidence and came out from behind with Western Michigan, who had a 17-15 lead.

Later on, the 2010 MAC player of the year made the game-winning serve that led NIU on to a 2-0 series lead.

The Huskies also pushed through in the third match, despite trailing 12-8.

They eventually came out with the victory.

“[Western Michigan is] a really great defensive team, and they have a diverse offensive team,” Gooden said. “We knew this was not only a critical match for tonight, but for down the road as well.”

Wicinski and Allison McGlaughlin recorded the winning kills in the third match.

Wicinski finished the night with only one error and reaching 25 kills on only 36 swings.

“It’s really impressive to see what [Wicinski] can do when the ball is in her hands,” Gooden said.

Wicinski wasn’t the only one to hit doubt digits.

McGlaughlin reached 12 kills, and senior Kristin Hoffman reached 46 assists. Hoffman also set up the 1,000th kill for Wicinski.

Hoffman has a history of setting up 1,000 kills for her NIU teammates, as she assisted Meagan Schoenrock (2006-09) in the same feat.

NIU recorded its 10th sweep of the season and used tactical hits to triumph the Broncos. NIU had 52 kills and hit .336 while restricting Western Michigan to 40 kills and a .196 attack percentage.

“It was really exciting to win,” Wicinski said. “I just really wanted to beat Western Michigan. They’re a really good team, and yeah, getting those last 14 kills was exciting, but a win is better than anything.