Aug. 15, 2007
DeKalb, Ill. - After winning the Mid-American Conference West Division by going 20-9 (13-3 MAC) in 2006, the Northern Illinois volleyball program has earned the respect of its MAC opponents as the 2007 season approaches. Despite losing key players, including 2006 MAC Player of the Year Kate McCullagh (Woodstock, Ill./Woodstock) and NIU career digs leader Gina Guide (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg), to graduation, the 2007 Huskies were selected as the MAC West's second best team in the MAC preseason coaches poll.
Northern Illinois garnered a pair of first-place votes to rank behind only West favorite Western Michigan (nine first-place votes). Central Michigan earned the third-place nod behind NIU, followed by Eastern Michigan, Ball State, and Toledo.
Leading the way in the East was defending MAC champions Ohio, who received 11 first-place votes. Rounding out the rest of the East were Bowling Green (one first place vote), Miami, Kent State, Buffalo, and Akron.
NIU head coach and 2006 Co-MAC Coach of the Year Ray Gooden was glad to see the respect that the Huskies have garnered from the rest of the coaches in the MAC.
"It's nice to be voted in the top part of our conference, but we also know that our conference schedule is so competitive and unpredictable," Gooden said. "We never know what it is really going to be like until we actually go through the season."
Gooden's sixth campaign with the Huskies will feature 10 returning letterwinners, five of which were starters last year, including sophomore Meagan Schoenrock (Sylvania, OH/Northview). Schoenrock earned Second Team All-MAC and All-Freshman honors in 2006 and had 334 kills, which ranked second on the team next to McCullagh.
The Huskies will be in action at home in their first match of the year on Friday, August 24 at 7 p.m. at Victor E. Court as they kick off the Northern Illinois University Invitational against Western Illinois.