The Northern Illinois volleyball team signed Brianna Horwath (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater Area), Malia Gabel (Pinckney, Mich./Father Gabriel Richard) and Paige Dacanay (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) to the 2013 recruiting class Thursday.
Horwath, Gabel and Dacanay join T’ara Austin (Joeliet, Ill./Joliet Central), Mary Grace Kelly (Strongsville, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) and Jenna Radtke (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Adlai E. Stevenson) in NIU’s group of 2013 signees.
“I think our class is a big one and it contains many different elements,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “It has athleticism, volleyball experience, winning players. They all are great kids, so all those things we hope will help us continue to doing what we set out to do, which is be one of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference.”
Horwath comes to NIU after a stellar career at Stillwater Area High School. In 2012, she earned second team all-area honors from the St. Paul Pioneer Press, in addition to being a team captain and an all-Suburban East Conference selection. Horwath earned all-conference honorable mention recognition in 2011.
She also helped the Ponies to a conference title in 2010 and a 22-8 record overall, while also earning the team’s Most Improved Award. In club action, Horwath helped her club win the Big City Luau Tournament and place second at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Presidents’ Day Festival in 2013, along with a fifth place Chicago tournament finish in 2012.
“Bri brings depth to our pin hitters and brings us our first lefty that we’ve had since I’ve been here at NIU,” Gooden said. “She’s physical and also has solid back row skills and we are excited to have her.”
Horwath attended the same high school as current Huskie Kayla Zeno, who played at SAHS from 2006-2009.
“NIU’s had a real strong history with quality players from Minnesota, players like Tera Lobdell, Amber Howard, Rena Widboom and Jen VonderHaar to name a few,” Gooden said. “It’s nice to continue that same relationship with players from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
Gabel comes to NIU from Pinckney, Mich., where she played at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Mich. In 2012, Gabel garnered all-state, all-region and all-conference recognition with the Fighting Irish, while being named a team captain and MVP. The libero also helped guide FGRHS to their first district championship in 21 years.
At the club level, Gabel became A2 18 Volleyball Club’s first Division I signee since the club was founded four year ago. Prior to playing with A2, she competed with Oakland Elite 17-1 National. Originally from Hawaii, Gabel travels there to train in sand volleyball with former Olympian Kevin Wong and also coaching a U12 volleyball team.
“Maila brings a level of coaching at the high school level,” said NIU assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Lynnette Moster. “Experience in that aspect of it will be great for in the gym, pushing herself and being a coachable player. She’s still growing physically and as a player. She will add to our depth of back row players.”
Dacanay will join the Huskies in 2013 after a stellar career at perennial power Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Ill.
While playing libero with the Wolves, she helped the team to a regional and sectional championship en route to their first super-sectional berth since 2007. Dacanay earned the team’s best hustler award each of her four seasons at PRHS, while also garnering all-area as a senior.
She garnered the most attention at the club level while playing with Club Fusion’s 18 Black team. This past season, she earned all-tournament team honors at the ultra-competitive Chicago Presidents’ Day tournament.
“She’s a feisty, energetic player that’s going to bring a lot of enthusiasm to the gym,” Moster said. “She’s super quick and adds some athleticism to our back row. She’s a local kid that plays for one of the strongest programs in the country and that level of experience is going to be helpful for our team.”
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.