NIU heads west screaming for vengeance


Ah, California. Hot sun, white beaches, volleyball. The NIU women’s volleyball team may not get to experience much of the first two, but they are sure to see some great hard court action this weekend.

The University of California Santa Barbara Classic is a two day tournament that will match some of the best competition in the country against one another. The Northern squad will be the lone representative east of the Rockies.

Other schools that will be in attendance include, Fresno State, San Jose State, Santa Clara, the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of Idaho, the University of Southern California and an all-star team made up of Olympians and former college stars.

Last year, the Huskies traveled west to participate in the Cal State Northridge Invitational and came away with a 2-3 record in the five team tourney; a mark that head coach Pete Waite hopes to improve upon at this year’s classic.

“There is going to be some great competition in that tournament,” Waite explained. “We expect a really tough weekend ahead. Win or lose, we are going to fight hard and raise our level of play.” He also went on to say how the Huskies have improved both physically and mentally since their last western swing.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to come home undefeated. That would be nice,” said outside hitter Joyce Book.

For setter Shelby Snyder, the invite is also a homecoming. Having graduated from Fountain Valley High School, she is about a 45 minute drive from the house she grew up in.

After an early let down against the Colorado State Rams, the Huskies are starting to heat up and some of the numbers they’re posting rank among the best in the country.

Before Wednesday, Kori Schauer was fifth in the nation averaging 5.4 kills/game and was 14th in blocks at 1.6. Snyder broke in at fifth on the assist chart with 13.8/game.

The whole team earns a spot on the national charts with 16.4 kills/game, good for 14th and they are 18th in assists, averaging 15.6/game.

For the Huskies, the action begins at 10 a.m. (PDT) on Friday against host Cal-Santa Barbara. At 4 p.m. Fresno steps up to take on the Northern squad. The round robin portion of the tourney concludes at 9 a.m. early Saturday morning when the Huskies face off against Idaho.

After the first round concludes, play off spots are determined by a team’s standing in their pool. The fourth and third-place teams in each field begin play at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The second place finishers play at 5 p.m., while the Championship Match begins at 7:30 p.m.

“Both Santa Barbara and Idaho were in the NCAA Tournament last year and they are in our pool,” said Waite. “We have to be prepared, there’s no doubt.”

There’s little room to think they won’t be. If the NIU-Wisconsin match last Wednesday was any indicator, the Huskies look to be prepared for the U.S.A. National Team.

Or at least the All-Stars.