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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Volleyball defense dominates in NIU shutout of Eagles

Huskies net season-high 15 blocks
Ryanne Sandifer
NIU women’s volleyball team waves to fans after Friday’s match against Miami University (Ohio). The women’s volleyball team defeated Miami in three sets. (Ryanne Sandifer | Northern Star)

DeKALB – “Monster block, monster block, monster, monster, monster block.”

Those were the lyrics heard from the speakers at Victor E. Court time and time again as NIU volleyball’s front row wreaked havoc on opposing hitters during Thursday’s match. 

The Huskies (7-12, 5-2 MAC) trounced the Eastern Michigan University Eagles (2-18, 0-8 MAC) in straight sets, 25-21, 30-28, 25-12, at Victor E. Court.

“I thought it was a great team win,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys. “We’re just getting better every time we step on the floor, and that’s just really going to be important for the rest of conference (play).”


NIU’s defense posted a season-high 15 team blocks and held the visiting Eagles to .155 hitting.

Sophomore middle blocker Savanah Brandt racked up a career-high nine block assists. Brandt also logged eight kills – match her career-best – and a squad-best .500 hitting.

“I feel great,” Brandt said. “I’m obviously really proud of myself, but I couldn’t do it without my right side blocker and my outside blocker. “

Junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo added three solo blocks and three block assists. Graduate student right side hitter Isabelle Percoco earned six block assists.

The Huskie defense was challenged in the early stages of the match by EMU graduate student outside hitter Callie Minshew, who had 17 kills through the first two sets.

By the third set, NIU had Minshew figured out and contained her to no kills and three errors in the final frame.

Junior setter Sophie Hurt recorded her second career double-double, finishing with 21 assists and 13 digs to lead the team in both categories.

Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann led the Huskies with 10 kills – putting her 10 shy of 1,000 career kills – along with .348 hitting.

Erdmann ignited NIU’s offense by recording the team’s first three kills of the match. 

NIU broke from a 19-19 late in the frame and clinched with an Atiemo service ace.

The second set saw NIU tally eight team blocks and rally from a set point deficit.

“It’s just a huge confidence builder,” Parys said of the second set. “It was a huge momentum shift and … Set 2 dictated the match for us.”

The Huskies defended a lead for most of the frame until a Minshew kill tied the game at 20. EMU went on to reach set point, leading 24-22.

NIU fended off EMU set point four times before junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic and Erdmann went back-to-back with kills to win the set.

After the hard-fought second set, NIU slammed the door on the Eagles with a 25-12 third-set rout that was largely aided by an eight-point scoring run in the middle of the frame. 

The Eagles returned with a 5-1 spurt before the Huskies put the game away with five unanswered points. The final point – a combo block by Brandt and Percoco – pushed NIU to its season-high mark in team blocks.

With the win, NIU defends its No. 6 spot in the MAC’s overall standings. Eastern Michigan crashed to the conference basement at No. 12.

NIU continues its series against Eastern Michigan at 6 p.m. Friday at Victor E. Court. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+. Live statistics will be available on SIDEARM Sports.

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