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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

COLUMN: Volleyball finding its groove

Three takeaways from NIU’s weekend split in Ohio
Ryanne Sandifer
From left: Graduate outside hitter Katie Erdmann, junior libero Crew Hoffmeier, junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic, junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo, senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes and senior setter Ella Mihacevich celebrate after a rally during a MAC volleyball match between the NIU Huskies and the Miami University RedHawks on Sept. 29 at Victor E. Court. NIU is looking to build on its newfound confidence after recent wins. (Ryanne Sandifer | Northern Star)

NIU volleyball is back home from its final Ohio road trip this season. With them, the Huskies brought a road conference victory and indicators of an upward trend within the program.


NIU took the opening set in each of its matchups with Ohio University (9-10, 4-3 MAC) on Thursday and Kent State University (4-14, 0-7 MAC) on Friday.

NIU struck first against Ohio with a 25-19 win in Set 1. The Huskies outhit the Bobcats .400 to .345. NIU was out-killed 16-10 but profited from Ohio errors to begin the match at a one-set advantage. Ohio went on to rally from behind by taking the next three sets to snap NIU’s three-game win streak.

NIU rebounded the following night with an explosive hitting performance in the opening frame against Kent State. The Huskies hit .500 in the first game on their way to a season-best .439 hitting percentage – NIU’s best hitting efficiency in a match this season.


Another year, another loss to Ohio. The Huskies’ sixth consecutive defeat at the hands of the Bobcats was a stinger, plain and simple. However, there is a silver lining to be found in the mud of defeat.

NIU’s claim of Thursday’s first set was the first time in roughly four years that the Huskies have taken a set from the Bobcats. Ohio swept in each of the teams’ past five meetings.

While NIU pitched a shutout against Kent State on Friday, Ohio gave conference frontrunner Western Michigan University (16-2, 6-0 MAC) a run for its money in a five-set battle. Though the Bobcats came up short in the end, they still went the distance with the Broncos – my current favorite to win the regular season and the MAC Tournament. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Thursday’s match may not have ended in NIU’s favor, but there was progress. For a team that underwent so many changes over the offseason, that’s as much as one can ask for. Next season might be a different story.


Thanks to Western Michigan’s defeat of Ohio, NIU maintained its grip on the No. 6 spot in the MAC standings it entered the weekend with. If the season ended today, the Huskies would be postseason-bound with the tournament’s final seed.

Next on its schedule, NIU hosts Eastern Michigan University (2-17, 0-7 MAC) for its Homecoming series on Thursday and Friday. 

With a pair of matches against a squad that remains winless in MAC play on deck, NIU finds itself in a position to climb to a 6-2 MAC record. If the cards fall the right way in the rest of the conference matchups, NIU could move up a spot or two on the league leaderboard.

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