Dec. 12, 2006
DeKalb, Ill. - Northern Illinois head volleyball coach Ray Gooden announced on Tuesday that Dani D'Ambrose (Addison, Ill.), Maddie Hughes (Downers Grove, Ill.) and Jessica Schultz (Beaver Dam, Wis.) will join the squad and play for NIU beginning with the 2007 campaign as the Huskies defend their 2006 Mid-American West Division Title.
"On paper this threesome has played some of the most impressive volleyball to date [out of all our recruiting classes]," Gooden said. "They include a Junior College national champion, a Junior Olympic open division finalist and a Junior Olympic All-Tournament selection.
"All three possess high levels of skill and success that will raise the level in our gym."
D'Ambrose, a 5-11 outside hitter out of Addison Trail High School, totaled a school-record 1,614 kills and 238 service aces during her career with the Blazers. She also holds school-records for kills in a match (23), hitting percentage in a match (.889) and digs in a match (32).
As a senior, D'Ambrose collected a school-record 459 kills and 55 aces, as Addison Trail advanced to the IHSA Regional title contest. She also owns the Addison Trail single-season standard for digs with 612 in 2005. D'Ambrose has a solid club background as well, as she was named to the 2006 Junior Olympic All-Tournament team for 18-year olds as a member of Sports Performance.
"Dani is a skilled and physical passer-hitter, whose extensive club experience will improve the level of our group right away," Gooden said.
Hughes, a 5-8 defensive specialist / libero out of St. Charles North, is a two-time selection to the Daily Herald All-Area first team. Hughes, who was a right-side attacker in high school, has 88 kills, 212 digs, 39 aces and 24 assists as the North Stars (31-8) advanced to the IHSA Class AA Supersectionals in 2006 and won the Upstate Eight conference title. Hughes was also a member of Club Fusion's 17-under squad that placed second overall in the Junior Olympic Open Division in 2006.
"Maddie is a complete defensive player with invaluable high level club experience who has the ability to make an immediate impact upon our program as a freshman," Gooden said.
Schultz, a 6-1 middle blocker, will transfer in to NIU for the spring semester after spending the last two seasons at 2006 NJCAA Division II Champion, Kishwaukee College in nearby Malta, Ill.
As a freshman, Schultz propelled the Kougars to the 2005 National Tournament, where Kishwaukee finished in ninth-place. She collected 193 kills on the campaign and was named to the All-Region First Team and the All-NJCAA Tournament team.
"The opportunities that I had to see Jess, I was very impressed with her athletic ability and her `Whatever it Takes' attitude to be successful," Gooden said. "We're very excited to have Jess in our program this spring."