Southern cookin‘ for NIU


Three days, three matches and hopefully three wins.

That’s what the NIU women’s volleyball team will be traveling to Texas for this weekend.

It won’t be easy, however, for unlike the Mid-Continent Conference, these three teams can match the Huskies’ firepower with some heavy hitters of their own.

Texas A&M University, the University of Houston and Sam Houston State will all try to put a dent in the 15-2 record the Huskies have posted so far this season.

Head coach Pete Waite says his team is excited to play the better competition. The team hasn’t really faced a tough challenge since the California trip when the Huskies posted a 3-1 ledger.

First up for the DeKalb squad is a 7 p.m. match with Texas A&M on Friday. The Lady Aggies are going to be the Huskies’ biggest challenge. The team is ranked sixth in the South Region, and has already beaten the two other teams the Huskies will face.

The Huskies will have to control the two senior middle blockers, Amy Kisling and Kim Mitchell. Sophomore setter Suzy Wente will run the offense.

On Saturday, the Huskies look to have a pretty easy go of it. Houston is only 5-12 overall but they have played some top 20 teams in the nation, including Baylor, Colorado and Santa Barbara.

The Cougars are led by junior middle blocker Lilly Denoon and senior middle blocker Ashley Mulkey.

Denoon is second on the team in kills (219) while leading the team in blocks (66). Mulkey leads in the kill department (225) and digs (179)


The Huskies conclude the weekend on Sunday in Huntsville, where Sam Houston State promises to be a great match.

The Lady Kats boast a 14-3 record and have already had a taste of Midwest volleyball. Three of the wins they have posted have come at the expense of UIC, Loyola and DePaul.

NIU will have to watch out for SHSU’s three big hitters, Tisha Hopkins, Jana Harless and Christi Drier. All three have already accumulated over 200 kills courtesy of their setter, Julie Franzen. Franzen has 869 assists, averaging almost 15 a game.

No matter how the team fares, Waite sees positives in just playing better competition than they have had for the last month.

He also is looking down the road at the Illinois State match early next month.

ISU has climbed the polls in the Mideast and is now firmly planted in seventh place behind the Huskies. The Redbirds will be out for revenge after losing to NIU in Normal last season.

It was the first time in 16 years that a Huskie team has beaten ISU. It was a particularly sweet victory for Waite, who was an assistant coach there before he came to NIU.