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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Volleyball thwarted in 4 at Ball State

Huskies eliminated from postseason contention
Josephine Dunmore
Sophomore outside hitter Nazli Güvener (17), celebrates winning a point with teammate junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic (21), during Friday’s match against the University of Toledo. The Huskies were eliminated from postseason contention after their 3-1 loss to Ball State on Friday. (Josephine Dunmore | Northern Star)

The NIU volleyball team kicked off its final road series of the regular season with a performance that extended a streak and ended dreams.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, their losing streak extended and postseason dreams ended.

NIU’s (8-20, 6-10 MAC) playoff hopes were dashed after a four-set shortfall to Ball State University (15-12, 12-4 MAC) on Friday at John E. Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana.

Despite NIU’s 10-3 run late in the fourth set to nearly force a fifth, Ball State held on to hand NIU its eighth consecutive loss.

The rivals split the first two sets before the Cardinals came away with the final two to win in four, 25-17, 23-25, 25-15, 26-24.

NIU was outperformed in every facet of the game save for blocks. The Huskies’ front row logged 6 blocks to BSU’s 2.

NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys expressed pleasure with her squad’s resolve.

“I thought we competed at a high level, and I thought we did a really nice job putting ourselves in position for three of those four sets, really, to win,” Parys said. “The message after the match today (Friday) is we’ve got to find a way to be confident and executive when it counts.”


The Huskies were officially eliminated from contention in the upcoming 2023 MAC Tournament on Friday. Minutes before the end of NIU’s match, Bowling Green State University defeated the University at Buffalo 3-1 to knock NIU out of the playoff conversation.

This marks the second-straight season the Huskies will not compete in the postseason.


Before the match, Parys made two notable changes to her usual starting lineup.

Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Lezon was given her first career starting nod. Lezon tallied 9 kills, a pair of block assists and a team-best .533 hitting percentage in her starting debut.

“It was very exciting, finally get that moment,” Lezon said. “The whole team boosted the confidence, they did the whole ‘hype-you-up’ right before, and I just know they have my back no matter what happens. Knowing that definitely helped my consistency throughout the game.”

At libero, junior defensive specialist Jada Cerniglia replaced junior Crew Hoffmeier in the lineup for the first time this season. The former accounted for 12 digs, three fewer than sophomore outside hitter Nazli Güvener’s team-best 15 digs.

Junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic led NIU’s effort with 12 kills. Senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes was the only other Huskie to crack double-figure kills, finishing with 10.


The Huskies spent much of the night under fire from a potent Ball State attack. Three Cardinals recorded double-figure kills, led by graduate student middle blocker Marie Plitt’s season-high 17 kills.

Freshman outside hitter Kendall Barnes and redshirt freshman middle blocker Aniya Kennedy followed with 14 kills each. Barnes recorded a career-high in the process.

The Huskies suffered a similar bombardment from Ball State’s serving rotation. NIU was aced nine times in the match, including a career-best 4-ace outing by Cardinal junior defensive specialist/libero Kendall Seimet.


After the loss, the Huskies sit in ninth place in the MAC standings. They can fall no further due to their record advantage over the three teams below them. Ball State has moved into a tie with Buffalo for the MAC’s second seed.

With two matches left in the regular season and no postseason in sight, the Huskies are out to prove they are more than their record.

“We’re trying to show that we’re not just ninth place,” Dykes said. “This is the MAC conference, everyone’s hard to beat, and the ninth place standing in the conference doesn’t define us as a team.”

NIU and Ball State will conclude their season series at 5 p.m. CST Saturday at John E. Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana. The match will be aired on ESPN+. Live statistics can be found on SIDEARM Sports.

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