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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies throttled by Broncos in MACtion duel

Erdmann cracks 1,000 career kills in loss
Courtesy WMU Athletics
Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann taps the ball over two Western Michigan University defenders. The Huskies were swept by the Broncos on Tuesday 3-0. (Courtesy WMU Athletics | Ashley Huss)

Tuesday promised a heavy-hitting MACtion showdown featuring NIU volleyball and its stout defense against Western Michigan University and its high-powered offense.

By night’s end, the Huskies’ aspirations of upsetting the MAC front-runner on the road had been snuffed out.

“They’re undefeated for a reason,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys and junior defensive specialist/libero Jada Cerniglia in separate interviews.

The Huskies (8-13, 6-3 MAC) were outbattled in three sets, 21-25, 22-25, 19-25, by the Western Michigan Broncos (19-2, 9-0 MAC) at University Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

“I think that we competed,” Parys said. “There were some areas of our game that were exposed, for sure. That’s a very good in-system, offensive team, and we’ve got to go back to defense this week.”

The Huskies struggled to slow down WMU’s dynamic outside hitter trio of seniors Anna Calcagno, Keona Salesman and graduate student Maggie King. Calcagno tallied a season-best 17 kills.

Western Michigan earned 49 kills on 109 swings for .303 hitting while NIU had 40 kills on 109 attempts for .229 hitting.

Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann was NIU’s top terminal arm with 10 kills. Erdmann reached 1,000 career kills with her first termination of the match.

Senior setter Ella Mihacevich finished with a team-best 18 assists, along with a match-best .500 hitting efficiency. WMU senior setter Logan Case led the night with 43 assists. Case’s seventh helper during the first set made her Western Michigan’s all-time leader in assists.

Trailing 1-0 in the match, NIU had its most competitive spurt in the late stages of the second set. The Huskies trimmed the Broncos’ lead by one point on four separate occasions. Each time, the Broncos responded with a score before eventually taking the set, 25-22.

“I think if we make a few more plays, we’re in that match,” Parys said. 

Tuesday’s deciding set proved to be the most difficult for the Huskies. NIU had seven attack errors and .116 hitting in the frame. NIU found itself at its largest deficit of the night in the middle of the third set, trailing 14-6. The Huskies fended off match point three times before Calcagno retorted with the match-winner.

Despite its loss, NIU retains its No. 5 spot in the conference standings thanks to the University of Akron’s three-set loss to the University at Buffalo. Western Michigan continues its reign atop the MAC leaderboard.

As the midway point of MAC play approaches, senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes said the match served as a learning opportunity.

“It was definitely a wake-up call, because we have been on a winning streak, that people aren’t going to just let us win,” Dykes said. “We actually have to go in and play 100% every day to be able to make it to places such as the MAC Tournament.”

The Huskies have a short turnaround ahead as they head to Central Michigan University for a two-match series against the Chippewas. The first match is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. CT Friday in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The match will be broadcasted on ESPN+, and live statistics will be carried on SIDEARM Sports.

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