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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies eye upset of top-ranked Broncos

Volleyball to play Tuesday MACtion
Ariyonna McGahee
NIU junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic (21) jumps in the air for an attack against Eastern Michigan University during Thursday’s match at Victor E. Court. The Huskies return to action Tuesday for a matchup with conference powerhouse Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Ariyonna McGahee | Northern Star)

The stage is set for a MACtion matchup featuring two of the conference’s top-five squads as NIU volleyball prepares for a brush with a conference powerhouse in enemy territory.

The Huskies (8-12, 6-2 MAC) carry with them a three-games unbeaten streak on the road to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where they will face off with the conference’s top squad, Western Michigan University (18-2, 8-0 MAC) on Tuesday.

“I think we’re really excited to play Western, but we’re going to treat this match like any other,” senior setter Ella Mihacevich said. 

NIU has won six of its last seven matches, including an ongoing three-game winning streak. In their last outing, the Huskies swept Eastern Michigan University in back-to-back matches on Thursday and Friday at Victor E. Court.

“I’m really proud of how they’re executing,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys after Friday’s win. “We’re winning matches that we need to be winning, but we know that the road is still long, and there is a big mountain to climb, so we’re going to keep pushing to just keep getting better every time we go.”


Junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo and senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes are both top-10 in the MAC individually in hitting percentage. 

Junior libero Crew Hoffmeier is anchoring the Huskies’ back row with 4.58 digs per set, second-best in the MAC and 50th nationally.

Two NIU middle blockers — Atiemo and sophomore Savanah Brandt — currently rank top-five in the conference in total blocks and blocks per set. Atiemo leads the MAC with 80 blocks and is averaging 1.03 blocks per set, the second-best rate in the league. Brandt’s 67 blocks are the third-most in the MAC while her 0.91 blocks per set rank fifth.

NIU trails the all-time series (33-35) against Western Michigan – one of its oldest foes. The two squads last met in the 2022 regular season finale. NIU succumbed in five sets to WMU by the end of an offensive slugfest. The loss killed NIU’s postseason aspirations, ending its season, and, with it, the 21-year tenure of former head coach Ray Gooden.


Western Michigan enters Tuesday’s contest with an unbeaten record in MAC play. Like NIU, the Broncos are fresh off back-to-back sweeps. The Broncos lead the conference in points per set (17.24), hitting percentage (.264), assists per set (13.07) and kills per set (13.99).

Graduate student outside hitter Maggie King’s 3.44 kills per set lead WMU and rank seventh in the MAC. King is one of three Broncos, along with senior outside hitters Anna Calcagno and Keona Salesman, with more than 200 kills this season.

Senior setter Logan Case sets the Western Michigan attack. Case is averaging 11.54 assists per set, best in the MAC and third in the country. 

Defensively, senior defensive specialist/libero Andelyn Simkins leads the WMU backcourt with 4.45 digs per set.


NIU can move up to the third spot in the MAC standings with a win and losses by the University at Buffalo and the University of Toledo on Tuesday. On the flip side, the Huskies risk falling to No. 6 with a loss and a University of Akron win.

Action will begin at 5 p.m. CT Tuesday at University Arena in Read Fieldhouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A stream of the match will be carried on ESPN+. Live statistics can be accessed on StatBroadcast.

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