June 27, 2013
2013 NIU Volleyball Schedule | Printable Schedule
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team unveiled their 2013 schedule Thursday, a slate that features 19 of the 30 regular season matches at home - including a eight-match homestand to open the campaign.
Along with the multitude of matches inside the confines of Victor E. Court, the Huskies will battle eight teams that qualified for the 2012 NCAA Tournament and three squads that finished the season in the AVCA Coaches' Poll. Among the teams include six-time national champion Southern California, Big Ten power Ohio State and Northern Iowa.
"I think that, every year, we've been continuing to work really hard on our schedule, finding the best teams or the best combination of events that prepare us for our conference season and postseason," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "I feel like this year is another one of those high challenge, but incredibly exciting, schedules for us."
For the eighth consecutive season, NIU opens their season by hosting the NIU Invitational August 30-31. In their debut match of the 2013 campaign, NIU will face the Green Bay Phoenix, who are led by first-year head coach and former NIU assistant Michaela Franklin.
Following their season-opening match, the Huskies take on a pair of NCAA qualifiers Saturday. The first one is Liberty, who claimed the Big South's regular season and tournament championships a season ago. In the nightcap, NIU goes head-to-head with Ohio State. The Buckeyes finished the season ranked 22nd in the coaches' poll and 23rd in RPI, in addition to advancing to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.
The team continues with their long homestand on Monday, Sept. 2, when they host the Missouri State Bears in a Labor Day tilt. Two days later, the Huskies welcome in-state rival Western Illinois into Victor E. Court.
There's always a positive to sleeping in your own bed," Gooden said about 2013's 19 home matches. "I think the schedule works out for us this year where we are able to have a lot of matches at home. There have been years where we have had a fair chunk of matches on the road, so we're going to try to take advantage of it - whether we play at home or on the road - and do the best we can."
On Sept. 7, NIU welcomes two more NCAA qualifiers to DeKalb for a day-night doubleheader. At 1 p.m., the Huskies play host to USC. Last season, the Trojans posted a 30-6 record en route to a national quarterfinals appearance against eventual national champion Texas. USC also ended 2012 ranked sixth by the AVCA and 11th in the RPI. Later that evening, NIU takes on 2012 Ohio Valley Conference champ Belmont in a 7 p.m. match.
"It's great to play against any team, but it's great to play against those teams at home and we have a chance to do both," Gooden said. "To play both (Ohio State and USC) here at Victor E. Court, I think it is a great situation for our program to be able to get those teams scheduled here. I also think it is great for our kids to play against high-level teams of that nature."
The Huskies hit the road for the first time on Sept. 13-14 when they head west for the New Mexico State Tournament. NIU opens their stay in the Land of Enchantment by facing Arkansas-Little Rock and Southern Utah on Friday. They close the tournament Saturday at 2 p.m. CT by taking on the host Aggies, winners of the 2012 Western Athletic Conference title.
|2013 SCHEDULE BY THE NUMBERS|
|19 - Total home matches for the Huskies in 2013, tied for the most in program history (2003). Last season, NIU was at home for 12 matches.
|10 - Number of teams on the schedule who finished 2012 in the RPI Top 100 (Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, IPFW, Missouri State, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Ohio State, Southern California, Western Michigan)
|8 - Number of teams on the schedule that qualified for the NCAA Tournament (Belmont, Bowling Green, IPFW, Liberty, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, Ohio State, Southern California)
|5 - Number of conference champions that the Huskies face in 2013 (Belmont - Ohio Valley; Bowling Green - MAC; IPFW - Summit League; Liberty - Big South; New Mexico State - WAC)
|3 - Teams NIU faces that finished the season in the AVCA Coaches' Poll (Southern California - 6th; Ohio State - 22nd; Northern Iowa - Receiving Votes)
NIU comes back to DeKalb the next weekend for their second home tournament of 2013 - the Huskie Invitational. Northern Illinois opens the four-team round-robin with a matchup against the George Washington Colonials Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. before facing the defending Summit League champion IPFW Mastodons at 7 p.m. The tournament wraps up Saturday morning when the Huskies face Oakland at 11 a.m.
Northern kicks off Mid-American Conference play Sept. 26 with a match against defending MAC West champion Western Michigan in Kalamazoo. Two days later, the Huskies head out to Ohio to face Bowling Green in a rematch of last season's MAC Tournament title match. The following weekend, NIU begins their MAC home slate with matches against Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan.
"The funny thing is that, a year ago, some of the same questions came up when we played Central Michigan to open up the season and our kids remembered the pain of that championship match," Gooden said about the WMU and BGSU rematches. "For us to say that our kids don't remember would not be the truth, but in the same sense, 2013 is going to be a new chapter. Western is always going to be one of the top teams to beat in the West and Bowling Green has come on now as one of the top teams in the East. We're going to play the best right away, but that's what you want, especially in the beginning of your conference season."
NIU's longest road trip of the year begins Oct. 11 with a Friday night match at Toledo, followed by a Saturday night fight against border-state rival Ball State. The four-match stretch continues the next weekend with tilts at Buffalo and Akron.
The Huskies return home for four more home matches starting Oct. 25. The homestand begins against 2012 MAC regular season champ Ohio and includes matches against Kent State (Oct. 26), Western Michigan (Oct. 31) and Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 2).
The team's final MAC road matches come on Nov. 8-9 against Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, while they finish their MAC docket the next weekend against Ball State and Toledo.
For the third consecutive season, the MAC Tournament will be held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, on Nov. 22-24.
All home matches are played at the NIU Convocation Center's Victor E. Court. For ticket information, call 815-752-6800 or go to NIUHuskies.com/Tickets.