NCAA overlooks NIU; Huskies still in Top 52

By Steve Dennis

To no surprise, the NIU volleyball team did not get an NCAA Tournament bid when the 32-team field was announced last night.

The 25-7 Huskies had an outside shot at the NCAA’s, but weren’t counting on a bid this year.

“There was an extreme outside chance,” NIU coach Pete Waite said. “But, it’s not a real surprise that we didn’t get in.”

Waite noted that the 110-team Mideast Region—where NIU was ranked 15th last week—was allotted 10 spots. Six automatic bids were given out along with four at-large invitations.

The University of Wisconsin, which NIU lost to in five games early in the season, received an at-large bid and Gateway Conference champion Northern Iowa, a team that NIU beat in four games, are two clubs that will represent the Mideast.

NIU will still compete in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (Dec. 5 through Dec. 7)—a tournament that is comparable to the NIT for men’s and women’s basketball.

The NIVC, held in Dayton, Ohio this year, is a three-day affair that includes the next 20 best teams in the nation—an honor that NIU lists proudly.

“We’re still one of the top 52 teams in the country and we feel good about that,” Waite said. “The NIVC field comes from across the country, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Postseason action is welcome to the NIU squad since it’s the first time in the program’s history. Being ranked within the region is also a first for the Huskies.

“Both are great steps forward for us,” Waite admitted. “It just shows where the program is headed and what we are trying to do.”

NIU received an automatic bid to the NIVC after claiming the North Star Conference title last week. NIU knocked off Wright State in the championship game to earn Waite’s second conference crown in four years. Pairings for the NIVC will be announced today.