NIU has a leader in Mason

By John Dietz

Wendy Mason has returned to the NIU volleyball team as a tri-captain ready to lead this powerhouse team into post-season play for the second year in a row.

After going 27-9 in the 1991 campaign, both Mason and head coach Pete Waite agreed that the only place for this team to go is up.

“We had no seniors last year and now I’m a senior and the oldest,” Mason said. “As far as the younger players go, I’ll talk to them and help them out if they have any questions about other teams, the coaches or about volleyball in general.”

Waite is conservative about giving predictions, but knows where he wants the Huskies to be come tournament time in November.

“I just ask them (the players) to be better than they were yesterday,” Waite said. “If that happens, the results will be a conference championship and an automatic bid to the NIVC (National Invitational Volleyball Championship).”

One big piece of the puzzle will be the play of Mason, who set NIU’s single-season kill record when she pounded out 442 of them last season. It is a record she hopes to break before the season is over.

Mason spent her first two years as a defensive specialist before being moved to the forefront last year. She ranked second in games played (131), second in digs (402) and third in service aces (42) for the Huskies last season.

The MVP of the 1991 season also received high accolades from her coach, who has seen her mature in her four years here at NIU.

“Her overwhelming gift is her natural physical ability,” Waite said. “She has a super vertical jump (24.5 in.) and has developed court skills to now match her athletic ability.”

Although the team does plan to make the NIVC, which is similar to the NIT in basketball, the NCAA tournament is not far out of reach.

“We have to beat the teams like Wisconsin that are on the schedule and have a good game with Long Beach State (No. 2 in the nation last year) to have a chance,” Mason said.