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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies collared by Panthers in non-conference closer

NIU battered in ‘Battle of the Northerns’
Logan Colglaizer | UNI Athletics
NIU junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo digs up a ball during Friday’s match between the NIU Huskies and the University of Dayton Flyers. The Huskies went on to fall in three sets to UNI Tournament host University of Northern Iowa on Saturday, ending the weekend with a 2-1 record in the tournament. (Logan Colglaizer | UNI Athletics)

One day removed from a crushing defeat followed by a resounding win to open the UNI Tournament, NIU volleyball was forcefully brought back to earth by a “Northern” foe.

NIU’s post-win fire was extinguished by an overpowering performance by the University of Northern Iowa during Saturday’s ‘Battle of the Northerns.’ The Huskies (2-10) were expelled from the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa, with a 3-0 shutout loss by the Panthers (6-6) – who hosted the weekend tournament.

NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys said Northern Iowa is a talented team that demonstrated better execution throughout the contest.

“They (UNI) did a really good job of being in system, whether it was defensively or on the serving side,” Parys said. “It definitely made it harder to defend. I think that was the biggest difference between sides, was how many more kills they were able to execute on.”


Northern Iowa outproduced NIU in nearly every statistic in the match, including doubling NIU’s kills total (50-25). The Panthers recorded a .299 hitting percentage while the Huskies mustered .071 hitting, treacherously close to their season-low mark set (.056) on Friday.

Senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes was NIU’s most efficient hitter with five kills and a single error on 15 swings for .267 hitting. Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann led the Huskies with six terminations.

The NIU defense was confronted with three double-digit kill outings from UNI’s side of the net. Junior outside hitter Kira Fallert secured a double-double with a match-high 15 kills and 10 digs. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Layanna Green and senior outside hitter Emily Holterhaus followed with 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

Junior libero Crew Hoffmeier helmed the Huskie backcourt in the loss with 22 digs to lead the match. NIU and UNI finished even in total blocks with three apiece.


NIU was handedly bested in the first set that started with a 6-0 UNI lead. The Huskies were contained to six in kills and errors and triple-zero hitting. The 25-11 first set final score served as the most lopsided set result of the weekend.

Northern Iowa dealt a staggering 20 kills to the Huskies on its way to claiming Set 2 and taking an early 2-0 match lead.

NIU had its most competitive outing of the day in the third frame. After falling behind early, the Huskies rallied to take a 17-16 lead in the set. UNI quickly reclaimed the frontrunner spot and proceeded to a 25-19 third-set, match-deciding victory.


With the 2023 non-conference stretch in the books, Parys sees the upcoming conference schedule as a chance to start fresh.

“We grew a lot as a team, and now we’re 0-0 (in MAC play),” Parys said. “I think that the biggest thing we need to focus on is not results. This is a process. It’s Year 1, and that’s how we need to treat the conference too.”

The Huskies continue their road spell for a series against defending conference champion Bowling Green State University. NIU will battle the Falcons on Thursday and Friday at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. Live statistics for Thursday’s matchup will be available on SIDEARM Sports.

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