The Northern Illinois University volleyball team released its 2014 schedule Monday, a slate that includes 12 home matches and seven contests against 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifiers.
The Huskies’ schedule includes home matchups against in-state rivals Northwestern and UIC, in addition to contests against national powers Colorado, Iowa State, Louisville and Arizona State.
For the first time, NIU will sell season tickets for volleyball. Season tickets are on sale now for just $40. Tickets are available online or by calling (815) 753-PACK.
“I think 2014 falls along some of the same lines as our past years’ schedules where we have a really good mix of teams with NCAA experience as well as local rivals,” said NIU head coach Ray Gooden. “We think this schedule prepares us for our always-challenging MAC schedule.”
For the ninth consecutive season, the Huskies kick off the season at home with the NIU Invitational.
After starting the tournament Friday, Aug. 29, against Presbyterian, NIU hosts Colorado – a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32 a season ago – in a noon tilt. The Huskies cap the tournament Saturday night when they battle Northwestern in a 7 p.m. contest.
After the annual home tournament, NIU embarks on a stretch of 10 of 11 matches away from DeKalb. That run starts Sept. 5-6 when they head to Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Challenge to face the host Cyclones, Tennessee and Omaha. Three days later, the Huskies return to Iowa to take on Missouri Valley Conference power Northern Iowa in a mid-week match.
The roadtrip carries on the next weekend with a trip to the Bluegrass State for Morehead State’s Eagle Challenge. While there, the Huskies will take on the host and defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Eagles, Louisville and Arizona State – all three of whom qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2013. NIU gets another mid-week contest the following Tuesday, as they host the UIC Flames Tuesday, Sept. 16, inside Victor E. Court.
NIU caps their non-conference schedule Sept. 19 and 20 in California’s Central Coast region with the UCSB/Cal Poly Invitational. The Huskies’ open the tournament Friday night in Sa Luis Obispo, Calif., against Cal Poly, then head south to Santa Barbara, California, the next day for a pair of contests against Santa Clara and 2013 NCAA qualifier UC Santa Barbara.
The Huskies start their Mid-American Conference slate with three-straight home matches, beginning Friday, Sept. 26, against Toledo. They face Ball State the next night before finishing the homestand Thursday, Oct. 2, against Western Michigan.
Following the three-match homestand, NIU hits the road for eight of their next 10, starting with contests at Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan. They get a reprieve from the road Oct. 17-18 when they host MAC East foes Akron and Buffalo.
NIU gets back on the road the following weekend, though, with a trip to eastern Ohio to face Kent State and Ohio, then transition between October and November with a Halloween night contest and Ball State and a Nov. 1 date at Toledo. The five-match trip concludes Thursday, Nov. 6, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, against WMU.
The Huskies close the regular season with three-straight at home. The homestand starts Saturday, Nov. 8, against Bowling Green in a rematch of last season’s first round MAC Tournament contest won by NIU. In the final weekend of the regular season, they Huskies host CMU and EMU.
The MAC Tournament takes place Nov. 21-23 in Athens, Ohio, and features a reconfigured format where the top two seeds earn double-byes and the third and fourth seeds take a single bye.
For more information on NIU volleyball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.