May 18, 2009
Complete 2009 NIU Schedule
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team announced its 2009 schedule today that features the season-opening NIU Invitational on August 28-29. Among NIU's other matches, the Huskies will participate in tournaments hosted by 2008 NCAA Tournament qualifiers Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky, and will host regional foes UW-Milwaukee and DePaul before entering their Mid-American Conference schedule, which features three 2008 NCAA Tournament teams.
"I think with the group we currently have and the direction we are trying to go we need to compete against some of the nation's best," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden, whose team has 15 road matches and 14 at home in 2009. "We've been fortunate to host a tournament in the beginning of the season the last few years. We continue to try to host a tournament in which every team has the ability to win it and has a unique style. It will be a great opportunity for our team to establish themselves. It will also be a great time for the team to ask and answer questions before we start an incredibly important conference season."
The Huskies begin the 2009 campaign with a match against Western Illinois at 12 p.m. CT on August 28th at home in Victor E. Court in the opener of the two-day NIU Invitational. The Huskies will also have matches against Southern Illinois, Stephen F. Austin, and Illinois Chicago. After a September 1st match in Peoria, Ill. against Bradley, NIU will play in two tough tournaments on consecutive weekends. The first will be on September 4-5 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on the campus of Middle Tennessee State in the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider Bash where the Huskies will face 2008 NCAA Tournament teams in Northern Iowa and Middle Tennessee State, along with Georgia Tech. The second is on September 11-12 when NIU will head to Bowling Green Ky. on the campus of Western Kentucky in the Lady Topper Volleyball Invitational where the Huskies will face another 2008 NCAA Tournament team in Western Kentucky, along with Memphis and Tennessee State.
"I'm excited about going to Middle Tennessee and I think our players will be too," Gooden said. "All of our competition will be against 2008 tournament or BCS teams. The Western Kentucky tournament will be another challenge for us with Memphis and Western Kentucky as top teams in their conferences, and Tennessee State will bring a unique style of volleyball as well."
NIU will then matchup with UW-Milwaukee and DePaul for the third season in a row before the Huskies begin MAC play for the remainder of the season. Both matches will be in DeKalb as the Huskies will face the Panthers on September 15th and the Blue Demons on September 22nd.
The first MAC weekend for the Huskies will be on the road against Ball State and Toledo on September 25th and 26th, respectively. NIU will then have a four-match homestand starting with two NCAA Tournament teams from last season with an October 1st match against Western Michigan and an October 3rd match with Miami (Ohio). The Huskies will finish the homestand on October 9-10 with contests against Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, respectively.
After a quick two-match road trip to face Buffalo on October 16th and Akron on October 17th, NIU has another four-match homestand that starts on October 23rd against Ohio, who reached the NCAA Tournament last year. A day later, the Huskies will play Kent State before wrapping up their last home weekend on October 30-31 with contests against Toledo and Ball State, respectively.
The Huskies finish the regular season with a four-match road trip and no home matches in November. On November 5th NIU will take on WMU and on November 7th NIU will face Bowling Green. In the final weekend, the Huskies will compete against Eastern Michigan on November 13th and Central Michigan on November 14.
"With the way the schedule is laid out this year we are either at home or on the road in chunks," Gooden said. "For the first time in my tenure here we will not have a regular season home match in November. It will be a challenge for us to take advantage of our multiple-match homestands in order to help us finish strong on the road."
The MAC Tournament will again be held in Toledo, Ohio on November 20-22 with first round matches at campus sites on November 17.