Northern Star




Northern Star

Northern Illinois University’s student news organization since 1899


Ensure student journalism survives. Donate today.

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies to host Rockets in final home weekend

Sondra Parys to face former college squad
Tim Dodge
Sophomore middle blocker Savanah Brandt (18) jumps to spike the ball over the net against the University of Akron on Oct. 27. The Huskies are looking to snap a five-game losing streak against Toledo this weekend. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

The NIU volleyball team kicks off the final month of the regular season with its final weekend series played at Victor E. Court.

NIU (8-17, 6-7 MAC) will host the University of Toledo (10-14, 8-5 MAC) on Friday and Saturday to close out its four-game homestand.

NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys hopes to see her squad come together and continue improving in the regular season’s homestretch.

“We’ve been faced. We’ve been pushed in a lot of ways this year,” Parys said. “I just want to see them continue to respond to that push.”


NIU enters the weekend in a state of free fall, having lost its past five battles. The Huskies suffered losses to the University of Akron on Friday and the University at Buffalo on Saturday. Friday’s defeat was the Huskies’ first at Victor E. Court this season.

Despite the setbacks, the team continues to pose itself as one of the MAC’s top blocking squads. Through 95 sets, NIU has averaged 2.25 blocks per set and totaled 214 blocks.

Junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo heads the front row with a MAC-leading 102 total blocks – making her the only player to crack triple figures this season. The Milford, Michigan, native is averaging 1.07 blocks per set, second to Ball State University freshman middle blocker Camryn Wise.

Junior libero Crew Hoffmeier continues to hold down the Huskies’ backcourt with 426 digs, averaging 4.48 per set – both ranking third in the conference. 


This weekend will be Parys’ second meeting with her alma mater. Parys served as an outside hitter for the Rockets from 2009 to 2012. 

Parys last faced the Rockets on Aug. 31, 2019, during her second season as an assistant coach at Loyola University Chicago. The Ramblers fell to the Rockets in five sets in Toledo, Ohio.

Meanwhile, junior defensive specialist/libero Jada Cerniglia will play against former high school teammate Toledo freshman middle blocker Sierra Pertzborn. The two were teammates at Middleton High School in Middleton, Wisconsin. 


Toledo enters the series fresh off back-to-back losses at home. The Rockets were upended in four sets by Ohio University on Friday and Kent State University on Saturday.

“I don’t really know what we’re going to get based on what we saw on film last weekend and what they did the weekend before,” Parys said. “I think, as always, the theme is we just have to focus on our side and play at our highest level.”

Senior outside hitter Taylor Alt is leading the MAC and 13th nationally in total kills (381). Alt, who became Toledo’s all-time career kills leader on Oct. 21, is averaging 3.97 kills per set.

The Rockets also boast one of the nation’s top liberos. Fifth-year defensive specialist/libero Ryann Jaqua is the conference’s frontrunner in total digs (496) and digs per set (5.17). Those marks also rank ninth and 16th in the country, respectively.

The Huskies and Rockets split last year’s season series in Toledo, NIU taking the last matchup in four sets on Oct. 22, 2022.


NIU enters the weekend as one of four squads with a 6-7 MAC record, all battling for a spot in the upcoming MAC Tournament.

Though the Huskies are not rock bottom in the conference standings, the only direction they can go this weekend is up thanks to their four-game advantage over Kent State.

To attain sole possession of the No. 6 spot, NIU must sweep Toledo, the series between Bowling Green State University and Akron must end in a split, and Central Michigan University must lose both of its matches against Kent State.

The action begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Victor E. Court. ESPN+ will carry streams of Friday’s and Saturday’s matches. Live statistics will be provided by SIDEARM Sports.

More to Discover