Spikers hope to clip Phoenix and Redbirds

By Jennifer Hutchins

Talk about big weekends.

The NIU volleyball team (17-5, 3-2) hosts Illinois State Friday and travels to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for its last regular season North Star Conference match on Saturday.

ISU and Huskie meetings are always big rivalries, and this one looks to be just as exciting. The Redbirds hold a 16-7 overall record this season including a 4-1 standing in the Gateway Conference.

ISU has additionally been named the 11th-ranked team in the Mideast Region after dropping from 10th following a loss to the University of Northern Iowa—a team NIU beat earlier this season.

“Having coached at ISU in the past, I’m familiar with the coaches and know they just have a super team,” NIU head volleyball coach Pete Waite said. “It’s always a great rivalry between the two teams, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Almost more important than the ISU match is the UWGB contest. The Phoenix (11-10, 2-3) recently pulled a surprise win over the University of Illinois-Chicago and are the only NSC team standing in the way of what could be a rather good seed for the Huskies in the NSC tournament.

“We have no problem getting up for teams like ISU, but we can’t look past Green Bay,” Waite said. “That match is probably the more important one because it’s conference, and there are two or three teams, including us, who are fighting for a second and third place position before the tournament takes place.”

NIU hosts ISU Friday at Chick Evans Field House with match time set to begin at 7 p.m.