Spikers move into select company


Well, it’s official.

The NIU women’s volleyball team has begun its quest for national attention on the right foot. The Mid-East Region volleyball ranking has the Huskies listed sixth out of the 116 teams in the region as of September 27th.

“Last year the highest we’d ever been was eighth,” said head coach Pete Waite. “That was the best this program has ever done. I think (sixth place) says a lot about how strong our team is and how much respect we’re getting from across the country. Being ranked sixth (also) says a lot for how far this program has come.

“The team’s really excited,” he went on to say. “When they found out, they were thrilled because they’ve worked hard to get to this point. Now they’re enjoying some of the benefits.”

The team is certainly among select company. Notre Dame is at the head of the class with Nebraska, Colorado, Penn State and Ohio State the only schools still ahead of the Huskies.

As much as the recognition means to the team now, however, Waite foresees even more benefits down the road.

“It will help us no matter what just having been at this level by the end of the year when the seedings come out for the NCAA,” he stated.

Two other schools have made an appearance in the top 15 that show up on the Huskie schedule. Kansas, in the No. 12 spot, has already been dispatched by Northern during the Huskie Invitational earlier this year and ninth ranked Illinois State invades Chick Evans Field House early in November.

This is a match-up coach Waite is looking forward to.

“They’re a very strong team and it should be an exciting match,” he said.

The way the Huskies have dominated the hard court over the last few games, there is little reason to think moving up on the list is out of the question.

“We’re hoping that with some strong wins here toward the end of the season will get us higher,” Waite said.

The way the Huskies have been putting their opponents away lately, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them rise to the top of the Mid-East region before season’s end.