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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Volleyball to host Eastern Michigan in Homecoming home stand

First-year MAC coaches to face off
Ryanne Sandifer
NIU graduate student right side hitter Isabelle Percoco leaps to make a play on the ball during the Huskies’ Sept. 29 against the Miami University RedHawks at Victor E. Court. NIU will return home for a pair of Homecoming match on Thursday and Friday against Eastern Michigan University. (Ryanne Sandifer | Northern Star)

With its six-game gauntlet against Ohio-based opponents now in the rear-view mirror, the NIU volleyball team has its sights set on a triumphant homecoming to ring in NIU’s 116th Homecoming. 

“Everyone’s excited to be back home,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys after Tuesday’s practice. “A first Homecoming experience – which I’m excited about – to kind of see what the atmosphere is like on campus, to be able to play Thursday, Friday, and have the weekend to kind of enjoy all that NIU has to offer. I think the girls are excited about that, so definitely got to take care of business.”

The Huskies (6-12, 4-2 MAC) will welcome the Eastern Michigan University Eagles (2-17, 0-7 MAC) to Victor E. Court for a two-match series.

NIU has won its past two homecoming matches, defeating Bowling Green State University and Miami University in DeKalb last season. The Huskies’ latest homecoming defeat came at the hands of Eastern Michigan two seasons ago. The Eagles left DeKalb with a five-set win on Oct. 2, 2021.


The upcoming series will see two teams led by first-year head coaches. NIU hired Sondra Parys as volleyball’s seventh head coach on Dec. 15, 2022. Parys arrived in DeKalb after five seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola University Chicago.

Eastern Michigan hired Kevin Foeman on March 2 to take the reins following the resignation of Darcy Dorton in January. Foeman previously spent five seasons as the head coach at Division II Ashland University.


NIU enters the weekend after earning a split in last week’s road trip to Ohio. There, the Huskies fell to Ohio University in four sets Thursday before sweeping Kent State University in straight sets Friday.

The Huskies’ .439 team hitting percentage against Kent State finished as the best single-game hitting performance by any MAC team this season.

Junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo is second in the MAC in total blocks (69) and blocks per set (.096). Atiemo’s .324 combined hitting percentage also ranks eighth in the league.

Junior libero Crew Hoffmeier commands NIU’s back row with a MAC-best 342 digs. Hoffmeier’s average of 4.75 digs per set makes her second in the conference.

Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann is on pace to become the third Huskie to reach a significant statistical milestone this season. Erdmann is 20 kills away from reaching the 1,000 career kills threshold.


The Eagles arrive in the Barb City with an 11-game losing streak. EMU is one of three MAC squads – along with Kent State and Miami – who have yet to win a conference match this season.

“We know, in the MAC, you can’t take anyone lightly,” Parys said. “They (EMU) have a lot of good weapons and anybody can beat you on any night.”

Graduate student outside hitter Callie Minshew spearheads the EMU attack with 3.56 kills per set, which ranks fourth in the MAC. Minshew is also the conference’s second-highest scorer with 291 points.

“She’s (Minshew) pretty terminal,” Parys said. “She’s their go-to, she runs a lot of different routes, and just finds a way to score. You can’t let one person win a match for them and you just got to find ways to slow her down and make sure nobody else really tees off either.”

Digging has been the strong suit of a struggling EMU squad this season. The Eagles top the conference in total digs (1,097) and rank second in digs per set (15.67). Freshman defensive specialist Hannah Howard is leading a stout Eastern Michigan back row with a team-best 3.67 digs per set, good for ninth in the MAC.


NIU holds a 38-29 advantage in the all-time series against Eastern Michigan dating back to 1979. The Huskies won both meetings last season in four sets at the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Thursday’s and Friday’s matches are each scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Streams will be available on ESPN+, and live statistics can be monitored on SIDEARM Sports.

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