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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Volleyball falls in four to Falcons

Erdmann earns double-double in loss
Scott Walstrom | NIU Athletics
Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann, junior libero Crew Hoffmeier, junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo, sophomore defensive specialist Olivia Hogan, junior defensive specialist Jada Cerniglia and senior setter Ella Mihacevich celebrate after a rally during Friday’s season-opening match against Chicago State University at the NIU Convocation Center. The Huskies were defeated 3-2. (Scott Walstrom | NIU Athletics)

Playing in front of a crowd of 865 in enemy territory, the NIU volleyball team churned out 20 kills, .333 hitting and 30 points in the opening frame of Thursday’s MAC opener against Bowling Green State University — the reigning league champions. 

The Huskies reached set point five times. Despite this, NIU started the night at a 1-0 deficit.

“It was one of the most fun sets we’ve played in a while,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys. “There was a lot of momentum and energy. I think that they (the players) saw that in tight moments, they can still be aggressive and find ways to score.”

From there, the Huskies gradually descended down a slide to defeat.

The Huskies (2-11, 0-1 MAC) stumbled in four sets, 30-32, 25-20, 21-25, 11-25, at the hands of Bowling Green State University (7-5, 1-0 MAC) on the opening night of MAC play.

“From the outside looking in, I don’t think it looks awesome,” junior libero Crew Hoffmeier said. “But team culture-wise, I think we stuck to the game plan, and we definitely are taking steps in the right direction.”

A strong hitting debut deteriorated over the course of the match, leaving NIU with a final hitting percentage of .188.

NIU’s defense struggled to obstruct a Falcon offensive effort that produced 57 kills on .262 hitting. Two Falcons – sophomore opposite hitter/setter Lauryn Hovey and junior outside hitter Kat Mandly – notched double-figure kills, logging 19 and 13 respectively.

BGSU’s 11 service aces are tied for the most NIU has surrendered in a match this season. Bowling Green’s junior defensive specialist Lindsey LaPinta and senior middle blocker Alexis Mettille each attained a match-best four aces against NIU.

“We’ve got to find a way to communicate early and fight some of those tough serves,” Parys said. “And to have reception breakdowns, it’s a tough thing to get yourself through, and we’ve seen that consistently through the season, but we’re going to keep trying to find ways to fight that when you’re getting pressure from the service line. That’s the sport, right there, and it makes or breaks matches, and it just didn’t work out for us there tonight.”

Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann earned a double-double, finishing with a team-high and season-high 15 kills paired with 11 digs. Junior setter Sophie Hurt accounted for a career-high 28 assists — more than half of NIU’s 49 total assists.

Erdmann passed the credit for her performance to the teammates playing around her.

“I think my numbers are a reflection of those around me,” Erdmann said. “I had my middles opening up seams and allowing me to have the opportunities on the pin that I did. Passing tonight was phenomenal. Crew (Hoffmeier) was great in the back row. Both Sophie (Hurt) and (senior setter) Ella (Mihacevich) did a phenomenal job of maintaining their composure and keeping my confidence as an outside attacker up.”

NIU’s offense was plagued by the Falcons’ frontcourt throughout the contest, moreso in the last three sets. Bowling Green denied 13 NIU attacks at the net, the most any foe has dealt the Huskies this season.

NIU’s lone win of the evening was a 25-20 victory in the second set to climb even. The Huskies logged .265 hitting to the Falcons’ .100. 

Bowling Green reclaimed the match lead with a 25-21 beating of the Huskies in the third set. The Huskies were thrust upon their heels in the fourth and deciding set, finishing on the foul end of a 25-11 stomping that left NIU with its first MAC loss.

Thursday’s outcome rocketed BGSU up to second in the conference standings. NIU remains in its original spot at No. 12.

NIU and BGSU will play a rematch at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio, to finish the series, one that NIU believes it can pull a split from.

“I am very confident that we can definitely get a win tomorrow (Friday),” Hoffmeier said.

The match will be streamed on ESPN+, and live statistics can be monitored on SIDEARM Sports.

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