Wichita St. tourney offers good practice

By Jennifer Hutchins

While the Huskies are preparing for their conference championships (Nov. 23-24), Wichita State University is offering the NIU volleyball team the ultimate practice session—a four team tournament held Friday and Saturday

The University of Tulsa (8-21), Southwest Missouri State University (15-11) and the hosts, WSU (20-11) have a tough “practice” planned.

WSU and SMSU recently defeated Illinois State University, a team NIU fell to in four games two weeks ago. The win gave SMSU a 15th place regional ranking while just last season, the Lady Bears were the Gateway Conference post-season champs and competed in NCAA tournament action.

“We know it’s going to be tough which will really prepare us,” NIU head coach Pete Waite said. “Win or lose we hope to improve our game and focus for the North Star tournament.”

If anything, NIU has got momentum on its’ side. The Huskies have won five of its last six matches including a five-game win over DePaul University and a three-game sweep of Western Illinois University.

“It’d be great to come out and win this,” Waite said. “I think we’re at the same level as all these teams which is what makes it exciting. We play best against teams that are a challenge.”

Meanwhile, Tulsa’s head coach, Dr. Tom Cairns, is simply hoping the Golden Hurricanes can put their losing record behind them for the duration of the tournament.

“It’ll be tough for us because we don’t have much depth, which accounts for our record,” Cairns said. “We play competitively but only if we have everyone healthy and playing well for us.”

The tournament will actually be a meeting between future conference foes as SMSU and WSU join Tulsa in the Mississippi Valley Conference in 1992.

“This tournament is really important to us,” Cairn said. “We’ve had a modest program so far, but once we join teams of Missouri and Wichita State’s caliber, I think we’ll see a big improvement in our program.”

When the Huskies return from WSU, they have one week to prepare for the NSC championships held at Cleveland State University. A fan bus will be available for fans. For details call the NIU ticket office at 1-800-332-HOWL by 4:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 18).