July 14, 2008
2008 NIU Volleyball Schedule (PDF)
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team released its schedule for the upcoming 2008 season on Monday. The Huskies will have 15 home matches and will face eight teams that have qualified for the NCAA tournament over the past two seasons.
"We feel like we have an experienced group so we wanted to make our schedule as challenging as possible," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "We will be competing against eight teams that have made the NCAA tournament in the last two years so that will definitely challenge us early in the year as we get ready for conference matches."
NIU will open its season on Friday, August 29 versus Chicago State at 7 p.m. CST as they host the first of two NIU Invites. The first of which will consist of UCONN, Chicago State and Cleveland State. The second invite is from September 12 - 13 and will feature Fairfield, Bradley, Towson and Loyola Chicago.
"It's nice to have home matches especially because we won't have any mid-week non-conference matches at home so we are fortunate to host two tournaments in the fall," said Gooden. "The first tournament is going to be pretty challenging. Both UCONN and Cleveland State have their best teams of recent memory. Our second tournament is going to be tough with Illinois rivals Loyola Chicago and Bradley. Fairfield has always been tops in their conference along with Towson."
The Huskies will also participate in an invite on the road at the University of Northern Iowa from September 5 - 6 where they will face UNI, Clemson and Marquette.
"The Northern Iowa tournament will be tough," Gooden said. "Both Northern Iowa and Clemson have been ranked at some point in the last year and Marquette is always a tough opponent."
After the second NIU Invite, the Huskies have a pair of tough road matches against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and DePaul before they open their Mid-American Conference schedule at Western Michigan on September 25 at 6 p.m.
"We also mix in Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who is always strong, and DePaul, who continues to build, before we start conference," said Gooden. "Our first match in conference is the defending MAC West champion and probably the favorite to win it again in Western Michigan. There isn't an easy match anywhere in the schedule."
NIU's longest homestand is on October 10 - 18 when they host MAC foes Ball State, Toledo, Buffalo and Akron. The Huskies' longest road trip is sandwiched between the two NIU Invites from September 2 - 9 when they go up against Illinois State, compete in the UNI Invite and then travel to Western Illinois.
The MAC Championship will once again be held in Toledo, Ohio with the first round matches starting on November 18 as the tournament will conclude with the championship match on November 23.