Spikers all set to rip through competition


After an impressive showing at the University of California- Santa Barbara Classic last weekend, head coach Pete Waite and his squad are ready to make a run at the conference title and an NCAA berth.

NIU grabbed third place last weekend and won their last three games, one in straight sets. Their only loss came at the hands of Santa Barbara, who also upset No. 6 UCLA to take first place.

“They are so good they take you right out of your strongest areas,” said Waite.

Not only did NIU have to battle tough opponents but also an errant scorer. In the first match against the Idaho Vandals with the score 12-10, the official scorer claimed the Huskies were out of service rotation and gave possesion of the ball to the Vandals.

With the score 12-12, Assistant Coach Mark Swaya, a certified official who specializes in both the Huskies and their opponent’s rotation, saw that Idaho was also out of position.

After a special committee reviewed the game film, it was found the scorer was errant, forcing the Vandals to play again with the score tied at 12. The Huskies, high on emotion, pulled a victory out and also captured the decisive fifth game.

“He did a great job a great job seeing that and then helping us stand up for it when the time was right,” said a thankful Waite.

Leaving last weekend with a 3-1 tournament record (6-2 overall) and a third place finish was something the team can be proud of, especially when you look at all the well respected talent that was in attendance.

“It was such a strong tournament. Obviously by the outcome of the Idaho match we could have finished seventh or eighth,” said Waite, which is where most of California predicted them to finish.

Northern Illinois will begin their road to the conference title on Friday, September 17, at the University of Illinois- Chicago before heading to Valparaiso University on September 18.

Although they have been predicted as pre-season favorites, Waite knows they can’t give a partial effort and expect to recieve that NCAA bid.

“We have to readjust our thinking now as we head into conference play, because there’s teams that know us now much better than some of those teams,” said Waite, “It’s still a tough challenge returning as conference champions, because everyone plays out of their minds against you.”

With some remarkable seniors returning, Waite couldn’t be more excited about his hope for post-season play this year.

Not all of Waite’s enthusiasm stem from his upperclassmen, though, as is the case with Tammy Cambell. A sophomore middle blocker, Tammy’s strong work ethics and light hearted personality make a great addition to the team.

Waite feels if the team works hard and stays focused, this year’s team can improve their record and also achieve a new goal; winning their conference round robin and playing host to the final tournament.