Defending NSC champs take one step at a time; UW-GB first on hit list

By Steve Dennis

In the cardinal and black, it’s the defending North Star Conference Champions…Northern Illinois University.

In the green and cardinal with the white trim, it’s the challengers…the University of Wisconsin Green-Bay.

Round One of the 1989 North Star Conference volleyball championship tournament is ready to begin.

That is what it boils down to Saturday at 9 a.m. at Valparaiso University as the Huskies attempt to defend their title against the Phoenix in the two-day tournament (Nov. 18-19).

Yet, there is one deceiving point.

The Huskies are the defending champs, but they have struggled this year. They ended the regular season with a 7-18 overall record and a 2-4 ledger in the NSC. The 2-4 finish dropped their No. 2 seeding of a year ago to the fifth seed this year. UW-GB, seeded No. 4, is one of the four conference foes to beat NIU this year in a three-game sweep at Green Bay (15-13, 15-11, 15-11).

“We may be going into the tournament as defending champions,” NIU coach Pete Waite said, “but we are definitely the underdog and darkhorse as far as winning a second straight title.”

If the Huskies get by UW-GB, they will take on top seed University of Akron, but they aren’t looking ahead.

“We’re looking to beat Green Bay,” Waite said. “And just take it one step at a time.”

The Huskies enter the tournament without its all-around statistical leader Kari Niesen. Niesen missed all conference matches this season with a knee injury that occurred in the Oct. 10 Loyola University match.