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The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT November 10, 2010

| November 10, 2010 8:00 PM

One of the best-kept secrets in North Idaho may not remain that way within a couple weeks.

Ranked sixth in the nation, returning one All-American and likely to add a couple more when selections are announced, you'd think that the word had gotten out by now.

This just in - North Idaho College is really good at volleyball this season.

WHEN THEY opened the season, the Cardinals had to replace five sophomores from a team that was the top-ranked team in the NJCAA at one point last season.

No problem.

Just as the pieces were falling into place in the spring, coach Chris Kosty resigned to take an assistant coaching job at Indiana University.

Enter coach Colleen Frohlich.

As the season began, NIC had its share of ups and downs as it played teams from the NWAACC and traveled to Southern Idaho more times in a span of three weeks than I've been, well, ever.

Then came matches in the very competitive Scenic West Athletic Conference starting in late September.

Playing on the road the first month of the season - no problem.

Once the schedule finally got in the red (NIC home games are listed in red on the team's website), they didn't lose.

JUST HOURS after going five games against quality opponents Snow College and Southern Idaho (defending NJCAA champions), both Salt Lake and NIC were back on Rolly Williams Court battling for the Region 18 championship.

At first, it seemed as though the Cardinals were going to make short work of the Bruins, and get an early start on the time switch on Saturday.

That didn't happen.

Salt Lake began playing like the team which won a Region 18 tournament championship on its home floor last October.

Both teams played the fifth game as if the national title was to be determined Saturday, instead of later this month in Missouri.

NIC found a way to get it done on the court to win the Region 18 tournament championship. Both teams advance to nationals, with seedings to be announced today.

SHOULD NIC continue its success through the NJCAA tournament, the secret may be out on the volleyball team.

But it’s not just the volleyball team that is ranked highly in their respective sport.

Both basketball teams are also opening their seasons with high rankings and expectations as the men are ranked third and the women sixth as of Tuesday. NIC’s wrestling team is ranked second, and with only three matches at home, will do most of its climbing on the road.

Should these teams celebrate some success this season, it could be difficult keeping the teams quiet by the lake much longer.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached via telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via e-mail at jelliott@cdapress.com.

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