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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Toledo spoils volleyball’s Senior Day

Three Huskies reach double-figure kills in loss
Tim Dodge
NIU volleyball players celebrate after NIU junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo blocks the ball against the University of Akron on Oct. 27. The Huskies were swept by the Toledo Rockets on Saturday. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

DeKALB – No. 2, No. 3, No. 12 and No. 15.

Those were the jersey numbers of the NIU volleyball team’s seniors the players fought for on Senior Day.

The Huskies (8-19, 6-9 MAC) brought fierce fight to the match but came up short in Saturday’s series finale against the University of Toledo (12-14, 10-5 MAC) at Victor E. Court.

NIU and Toledo split the match’s first two sets before the Rockets took the final two by scores of 25-23.

“Proud of them for their fight and their effort,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys. “They definitely had a choice after yesterday, and I thought they came back, and they really wanted to win today.”

The Huskies have now lost seven consecutive matches, the last four while playing at home.


Graduate student outside hitter Katie Erdmann, graduate student right side hitter Isabelle Percoco, senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes and senior setter Ella Mihacevich were honored as part of Saturday’s Senior Day festivities.

Each of the four was accompanied by their family – with a bouquet of flowers in hand – to midcourt where the seniors received a framed jersey.

“It was weird,” Mihacevich said. “I’ve seen it happen three years, and you always think ‘ah, it’s so far away,’ and then all of sudden, it’s you.”


Saturday’s contest became competitive quickly after both sides battled past 25 points in the opening set. After having set point fended off twice, the Huskies dispatched Toledo on the third go-round with a kill by junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo. 

Atiemo was one of seven players – three Huskies and four Rockets –  to crack double-figure kills in the match. Junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic and sophomore outside hitter Nazli Güvener both led NIU with 12 kills apiece.

On the opposite side of the net, Toledo’s senior outside hitter Taylor Alt and senior opposite hitter Jada Bouyer each had a match-high 15 kills. Senior middle blocker Abby Erickson and sophomore outside hitter Izzy Granger supported their efforts with 10 kills each.


With NIU leading 22-19 in the third set, Granger’s kill sparked the 6-1 run that gave Toledo the set and a 2-1 advantage.

NIU trailed to begin Set 4 before overtaking Toledo with a 5-0 run to lead 17-15. Three rallies later, the Rockets blasted off on the 8-0 run that brought them to match point. The Huskies successfully warded off match point five times before a blocking error ended NIU’s winning aspirations.

“It was just a good fight,” Nedic said. “We were just back and forth. They were adjusting fast, we were adjusting quick … We’re both really good teams, and they just got the upper hand.”

Defeats for NIU and the University of Akron keep the two squads locked in a tie for eighth place in the conference. 


After suffering defeat on her senior day, Mihacevich still seeks one more taste of victory.

“Selfishly, I want a big upset to end my NIU volley career,” Mihacevich said. “Whether that’s a match at Ball State this coming weekend or that’s our final match at home against Western (Michigan University), I’m looking for one more great win as a team.”

Up next, the Huskies will make their final road trip of the regular season to take on Ball State University (14-12, 11-4 MAC) in Muncie, Indiana. The series begins at 5 p.m. Friday at Worthen Arena. Live statistics will be available on SIDEARM Sports.

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