May 10, 2010
2010 NIU Volleyball Schedule
DeKALB, Ill. - As it has for the seventh time in the last nine seasons, the Northern Illinois volleyball schedule will start with the annual NIU Invitational. Released Monday, the fall 2010 slate will also feature contests against 2009 NCAA Tournament qualifiers College of Charleston and Ohio, two home matches versus Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Iowa, and match-ups with Big East foes DePaul and Marquette.
In this year's fall classic, held August 27-28, the Huskies will host Charleston, Chicago State, Oakland and South Dakota. Charleston and South Dakota will start the invitational Friday, August 27 at 10 a.m. CST before NIU plays Chicago State at noon to begin its season at the event that the Huskies have gone 16-11 in under head coach Ray Gooden.
"It's great to start off your season at home," said Gooden, who enters his ninth season at Northern Illinois. "We have been fortunate in that the NIU Invite has had a long-standing tradition of attracting solid teams to DeKalb."
Two weeks later, the Huskies will welcome strangers Wisconsin and Iowa to Victor E. Court. The September 14 contest versus Wisconsin will mark the first since a 3-0 Badgers win on September 5, 1995 in Madison. With the Hawkeyes match, held on a rare Sunday (Sept. 19), it will be the first since NIU took a 3-0 home decision October 30, 2001.
"Anytime you play against a BCS opponent you feel a sense of pride," Gooden said. "Playing against two Big Ten teams in Wisconsin and Iowa will be great regional match-ups, but to have them both at home is special."
In the middle of a season-long, seven-game home stand, the Huskies will host DePaul September 21, marking the fourth straight season that the teams have met with NIU holding a 2-1 advantage. To end November, NIU will then play a post-Mid-American Conference Tournament match at Marquette on the 27th day of the month to mark the first time that Gooden has scheduled a match after the league finale.
"We always make it a point to schedule in-state opponents because of the level of volleyball in our area and we have been able to play DePaul four years in a row now," said Gooden.
"The best teams play Thanksgiving weekend to prepare for the NCAA Tournament," Gooden said. "As a program, we must prepare ourselves to be one of those teams."
Following the NIU Invitational, the Huskies will have a home competition versus Bradley August 31 before they hit the road for tournaments on consecutive weekends. September 3-4 will present NIU with matches against Kennesaw State, Memphis and host Illinois Chicago. September 10-11 in Elon, N.C., Northern Illinois will face host Elon, Liberty and Stetson.
"The UIC tournament holds a variety of different factors," said Gooden. "UIC is a quality local opponent. Memphis is a team that we competed against last year. Kennesaw is vastly improved.
"The trip to Elon gives us the opportunity to compete against teams outside of our region."
Sandwiched between the Big Ten matches will be a home contest against Youngstown State September 18 prior to NIU beginning its MAC slate with three straight home matches. The first is versus Ball State September 24 at 7 p.m. The next day, the Huskies host Toledo, and five days later, they host Western Michigan.
The Huskies will also welcome to town Akron and Buffalo October 15-16 before playing three consecutive league home matches again starting with a November 6 contest versus Bowling Green. Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan will then come to Victor E. Court November 12-13 to end the MAC regular season with the conference tournament scheduled for First Round matches on November 16 at campus sites and the final rounds in Toledo, Ohio at the SeaGate Centre November 19-21.
"In the latest edition of the MAC cycle, we have been able to have two distinct home stands," Gooden said. "It's nice to have two big stretches at home. Last year our home season ended on Halloween, so it will also be nice to have home stands throughout the entire season."