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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Streak snapped: Volleyball falls in 4 to Ohio

NIU’s win streak snapped in loss to Bobcats
Courtesy The Post
Both teams gather as Northern Illinois University scores the point at The Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio, on Oct. 5, 2023. Photo provided by The Post (Joe Hallquist) October 5, 2023.

NIU volleyball displayed a first-set performance rife with discipline and efficiency, all put together to reward NIU with its first set win over Ohio University in nearly four years.

From there, the game went downhill for the Huskies (5-12, 3-2 MAC) as the Ohio Bobcats (9-9, 4-2 MAC) took the following three sets to make NIU the loser, 25-19, 17-25, 20-25, 20-25, of the rivals’ lone meeting of the season Thursday. 

“After that first set, they (Ohio) made changes. It frustrated us, and I just don’t think we were able to respond as quickly in Sets 2, 3 and 4 to put us in a better position to win,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys.

Ohio’s come-from-behind handed NIU its sixth straight defeat in the all-time series against the Bobcats whilst snapping NIU’s three-game win streak.


The visiting Huskies jumped to a 1-0 start behind efficient offense, recording 10 kills and a pair of attack errors on .400 hitting with a quartet of service aces to boot.

NIU’s 25-19 first-set win marked the Huskies’ first set taken against Ohio since Oct. 26, 2019, when the Huskies defeated Ohio 3-1 in DeKalb. The five matchups since have each resulted in Ohio sweeps.

“We knew we were a team that does well when we start strong, so that’s been a big focus for us,” Parys said. “The lesson for moving forward is, ‘OK, we started strong. How do we maintain that?’”


Thursday’s matchup set the stage for a clash between the MAC’s top squads in blocks and kills. NIU entered the match with a league-best 113.0 total blocks while Ohio held 901 kills to top the MAC.

By night’s end, NIU was nearly matched in blocks and wholly outdone in kills. Ohio finished with 60 kills and five blocks compared to NIU’s 39 kills and seven blocks.

Sophomore opposite hitter Anna Kharchynska and graduate middle blocker Caitlin O’Farrell harassed the Huskies, teaming up for 33 kills. Kharchynska’s 18 kills led the match and set a new single-game high for the Ukraine native.

Senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes was the lone Huskie to cross into double figures, leading NIU in kills (11) and hitting percentage (.321). Graduate outside hitter Katie Erdmann recorded a trio of service aces to match her single-game high. NIU finished with .140 hitting as a team.

NIU’s attack was reduced by staunch backrow play from Ohio’s defensive specialist/libero pairing of senior Maci Watrous and freshman Kendall Hickey. Both players recorded season-highs in digs, Watrous finishing with a match and season-best 16 digs and Hickey with a career-best 11 digs.

The Bobcats made a mid-match switch at libero, shelving senior defensive specialist/libero Sam Steele in favor of Watrous in the second set.

NIU allowed Ohio into a position to take the go-ahead set after permitting a 6-0 run, five of those points coming from Kharchynska and freshman middle blocker Emily Waddell.

Set 4 was the hardest-fought battle of the match with nine tied scores and two lead changes. NIU led at points eight through 11 before allowing Ohio to reclaim the frontrunner spot and win the match.


With a chance for her team to earn redemption in a matter of hours, Parys emphasized the importance of playing with versatility.

“Not one way is going to work against every team,” Parys said. “What worked against Miami (University) last weekend maybe didn’t necessarily didn’t work against Ohio, and we just have to be more adaptable, quicker.”

Thursday’s result forced the teams to swap positions in the conference standings. Ohio moves up to No. 6 while NIU has been nudged into Ohio’s previous spot at No. 7.

NIU will proceed to the last stop of its weekend road trip. There, the Huskies will battle the Kent State University Golden Flashes (4-13, 0-6 MAC) at 5 p.m. CT Friday in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center in Kent, Ohio. The match will be streamed on ESPN+. Live statistics will be presented by SIDEARM Sports.

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