And the beat goes on …

By Kris Felde

Head coach Pete Waite will bring his NIU Huskies to Charleston, Ill. to face the Lady Panthers of Eastern Illinois in what promises to be one of the best conference matchups this year.

After knocking off four conference rivals in a combined 12 games, allowing on average only 3.5 points per game, the Huskies are ready to step up and face a little bit better competition.

If past performance is any indication of what to expect this weekend, the Huskies have nothing to worry about as they easily took both of last year’s matches with EIU in straight sets.

With their recent success in California and undefeated record in conference, the volleyball squad is excited about getting through the regular season to see how they fare in NCAA tournament play.

“Their attitude is really positive right now, partly because of the new rankings that just came out and the fact that they are proud of the respect that they have earned,” said Waite.

Although no one seems to present any real danger Friday night, returning middle blocker Kim Traub is on Waite’s mind.

Last year Traub was named Mid-Continent Player of the Week four different times, but even if she does have a great game, the sizeable depth of NIU should prevail.

After leaving Charleston, NIU will head further east, crossing state borders as they take on the Raiders of Wright State.

With a 4-1 series lead heading into the Saturday afternoon matchup, NIU expects this to be the more challenging of the two contests, but still doesn’t expect much of a struggle.

Although sweeping both of last year’s matches in straight sets with Wright State, Waite also expects both teams to end up somewhere in the second through fourth place area.

With only five matches left before NIU heads off to Texas to compete with three strong teams, Waite knows it is extremely important to nail down these next five matches before leaving.

“Western will pose another challenge for us, but I’d say as our week approaches we will be gearing up because of the importance of that Houston trip,” said Waite. “There are at least two regionally ranked teams that could really make a big difference in our final standings.”