NIU Volleyball Announces 2009 National Letters of Intent

GO HUSKIES NIU head coach Ray Gooden inked four players for the 2009 season.
NIU head coach Ray Gooden inked four players for the 2009 season.

Dec. 5, 2008

DeKalb, Ill. - The Northern Illinois volleyball team announced the signing of four players with tremendous athleticism from the class of 2009. Sue Hayes (Evergreen Park, Ill./Mother McAuley), Mary Kurisch (LaCrosse, Wis./West Salem), Meghan Romo (Valparaiso, Ind./Valparaiso) and Margo Schwartz (Waconia, Minn./Waconia) bring impressive credentials and a trio of six-footers to the NIU volleyball program.

"I think in a word the way to describe this group is athletic," said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. "We recruited all four with the idea that they could help our program advance from the moment they step on campus."

Hayes, a 5'1" defensive specialist, comes to NIU from a very successful program in which she led Mother McAuley to a 48-0 Girls Catholic Athletic Conference record in her four years, winning three straight regional (2006-08) and sectional (2006-08) championships along with two consecutive supersectional championships (2007-08) and a second (2007) and third place (2008) finish in state. She was named to the GCAG First Team All-Conference as a junior and senior and was selected to the Southtown Star All-Area Team and Rich East All-Tournament Team as a senior.

"Sue in a word is a winner," Gooden said. "She has played for one of the top high schools in the country as their starting libero and one of the top rated club teams as well. She will bring a high level of skill and work ethic that you love to see in a player."

At 6'2", Kurisch will be a welcome addition as an attacker. In her three years on the varsity squad at West Salem High School, she won three straight co-conference championships (2006-2008), three regional championships (2006-2008), sectional championship (2006) and third place finish at state (2006). She earned Coulee Conference First Team recognition during her junior and senior years. She garnered the honor of the LaCrosse Tribune Player of the Year and was an honorable mention all-state selection as a senior, recording 313 kills with a .458 hitting pct to go along with 114 total blocks. Kurisch also excelled in track and field and basketball in her freshman through junior years when she was the conference winner in discus (2006-08), and shotput (2008), while she placed sixth in the state in discus her junior year and was also a state qualifier in 2007 for discus and 2008 for shotput. She helped lead West Salem to a State Championship in 2007 and was state runner up in 2008. In basketball, she was named to the First Team All-Conference and First Team All-Area by the LaCrosse Tribune in her junior year as she led the conference in scoring.



"The sky's the limit for Mary," said Gooden. "She has the ability and potential to play all three front row positions. She is very physical at the net and will be a major force with her presence."

The 6'1" Romo brings another six-footer to the NIU front row as she was named team captain, team MVP, Northwest Indiana Times Player of the Year and Duneland Athletic Conference Co-MVP as a senior, totaling 377 kills, 50 aces and 53 blocks. She earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team in her junior and senior seasons along with being selected to the All-Area First Team as a senior, Second Team as a junior and was an honorable mention as a sophomore. She holds the Valparaiso High School record for kills in a match with 27.

"Meghan has terminating power as a pin hitter," Gooden said. "She has the potential of being a solid blocker as well."

The addition of 6'0" Schwartz rounds out the trio of six-footers and like Kurisch, she will be an attacker. As a three-year starter at Waconia High School, she helped lead the Wildcats to three straight Wright Conference championships and two state sectional semifinal appearances (2007, 2008). She was selected to the First Team All-Conference during her senior year, while being named a Top 10 blocker and Top 30 in kills by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a senior and a Top 15 blocker as a junior. In each of her three years at Waconia, she recorded over 200 kills and 90 blocks.

"Margo is a dynamic attacker that we're excited to see how she progresses in her final club season," said Gooden. "She has the potential to be both a middle blocker and a right pin attacker for us."

The four signees will join NIU's 10 returning players in 2009 that include five seniors.