Aug. 9, 2013
DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois volleyball team officially began their 2013 campaign Friday, as the team reported to campus in preparation for the preseason. The team’s first practice will be on Saturday morning before getting into full gear on Monday.
The team went 21-15 a season ago under head coach Ray Gooden – the team’s third consecutive 20-win season – and advanced to the MAC Championship Match for the third year in a row.
Despite losing five seniors to graduation, the Huskies bring plenty of experience back for 2013. NIU boasts seven returning letterwinners and three starters from last season’s squad, including 2012 All-MAC selection Sarah Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) and Mackenzie Roddy (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon). Additionally, senior Justine Schepler (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) and 2012 MAC All-Freshman Team honoree Alexis Gonzalez (Fresno, Calif./Bullard) will be important factors in NIU’s backcourt.
The Huskies will also bring in plenty of new blood with seven newcomers to the team. Among that group are freshmen T’ara Austin (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Central), Paige Dacanay (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge), Mary Grace Kelly (Strongsville, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) and Jenna Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Stevenson). The team also adds one transfer in Sam Mainzer (Cary, Ill./Cary-Grove), who played one season at Illinois-Springfield before joining the Huskies.
As has been the case the last several seasons, NIU will take on one of the toughest schedules in the country, as they will face eight NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago. The Huskies open the year by hosting Ohio State, Liberty and Green Bay in the NIU Invitational Aug. 30-31 inside Victor E. Court. The squad will also take on six-time national champion Southern California (Sept. 7) and regional power Northern Iowa (Sept. 17) before beginning their MAC slate at Western Michigan Sept. 26.
To follow the Huskies during preseason camp and all through the season, log on to NIUHuskies.com for news and video. You can also follow along on Facebook (NIU Athletics, Northern Illinois University Volleyball) and Twitter (@NIUAthletics, @NIUVolleyball).