NIU spikers buckling up for rough tourney

By John Dietz

Fasten your seatbelts, lock the children in the house and don’t let them out until the final spike is down the loser’s throat.

That’s about how scary the Miami (Ohio) University volleyball tournament could get this weekend. NIU will take on some true powerhouse schools that contrast sharply with the three they left in the dust last weekend at Bowling Green State.

The first opponent head coach Pete Waite’s squad will attempt to conquer will be the Purdue Boilermakers (3-1). The Huskies fell to Purdue twice in the non-traditional season but were without two key starters.

“What’s good (about those two losses) is we didn’t have all our starters. We were experimenting a lot in those two matches by using different lineups,” Waite said. “We’re motivated to win because we have a much stronger lineup now.

“The girls are pumped up to play them. Going into it, Purdue doesn’t know that (we were injured in the two losses) coming in,” Waite said.

The second opponent, Miami (1-3), is also not to be taken lightly. They finished second in the Mid-American Conference last year (26-12, 12-4) and went to the National Invitational Volleyball Championships. The Huskies are definitely not looking at this as a definite win.

“We could come into this and go 0-3 or 3-0, depending on how we play,” Waite said.

In the end, the tournament may come down to the Huskies’ final opponent—Pittsburgh (0-3).

Although the Panthers enter the weekend after a shaky start to their season, they were ranked 25th in the preseason polls and have an impressive 92-25 record in the past three seasons (28-9 last year).