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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Volleyball routed by Broncos in home finale

Huskies end 2023 with 10-straight losses
Tim Dodge
NIU senior opposite/outside hitter Emily Dykes (12) and sophomore middle blocker Savanah Brandt (18) team up to block over the net against the University of Akron on Oct. 27. The Huskies ended their season with a 3-0 loss to Western Michigan on Wednesday. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Eighty-two days after the 2023 campaign got its start, the NIU volleyball team completed the season’s final act Wednesday.

Cheers and whistles from the 625-person crowd permeated through Victor E. Court as two squads in very different situations battled for volleyball supremacy.

On one side, the hosting NIU Huskies – already eliminated from the postseason – batted for pride. On the other, a Western Michigan University team fought to make history.

In the end, NIU came up short in three sets, 22-25, 21-25, 20-25, to finish its 2023 season with its 10th-straight defeat. The Huskies held a lead in every set before allowing the Broncos to sneak by and win each.


NIU kept matters competitive in a match that featured 24 tied scores and 11 lead changes. Junior outside hitter Nikolette Nedic said NIU’s aggressive efforts stemmed from limiting unforced errors and putting the Broncos in uncomfortable positions.

“We didn’t give them free points,” Nedic said. “We could tell that they were scared.”

NIU finished the match with 36 kills and 14 errors – 9 of those being unforced – for .175 hitting. 

“I am very proud of the team,” said NIU volleyball head coach Sondra Parys. “I thought that was the best effort and heart and clean volleyball we’ve played in a long time.

Nedic was the only Huskie to cross into double-digit terminating figures. The Willowbrook native finished with 10 kills.

Junior middle blocker Charli Atiemo paved the way for NIU’s 12-block performance with 7 total blocks.

Senior setter Ella Mihacevich led the Huskies in assists in her final game wearing NIU colors. The departing player tallied 16 assists in her swansong outing.


With the win, Western Michigan became the first MAC squad to finish perfect in league play since 2006.

“That team is very good,” Parys said. “Their record is very worthy of how talented that team is.”

Senior outside hitter Anna Calcagno topped the Broncos with a double-double. Calcagno racked up a match-high 14 kills along with 14 digs.

Senior setter Logan Case conducted Western Michigan’s attack with 38 assists, a match-high mark.

In the Broncos’ back row, senior defensive specialist/libero Andelyn Simkins banked a match-best 19 digs.

As the Broncos reveled in their 18th consecutive victory, the Huskies took to their locker room. From there, the departing seniors will move on to the next chapter of their respective lives while the returners prepare for a new season in 2024.


Wednesday’s match closed the book on Parys’ first season as the leader of NIU volleyball. Looking back on her inaugural head coaching season, Parys said she expected greater, but has optimism for the future that lies ahead.

“I think I had high expectations coming in,” Parys said. “I’m kind of that person. Of course, we’re immediately going to reflect and find ways that we can continue to grow and get better. There were some high highs and some low lows. I think we were in a lot of matches and wish we would have executed a little bit more to have more dubs in the win column, but overall, it was pretty true to what Year 1 could be.”


NIU finishes its season at 8-22 overall, including a 6-12 record in league play. The Huskies end the year at fifth place in the MAC West and ninth in the conference as a whole.

While the Broncos return to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to begin hosting the MAC Tournament, NIU will stay home and look forward to the offseason ahead.

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