James Krause | Northern Star
DeKALB — The NIU women’s volleyball team has a highly anticipated matchup this Saturday when they host the University of Wisconsin Badgers; the second ranked team in the country.
The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Victor E. Court. NIU Athletics announced Tuesday that tickets are sold out for the event. A limited amount of student tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis an hour prior to the start of the match.
The Badgers are coming off an impressive season as they made it all the way to the semi-final of the NCAA National Championship tournament, the universities fourth in school history. The team would eventually lose in a close matchup with the University of Texas Longhorns.
The Huskies will have their hands full with the Badgers offense, especially with the senior middle blockers Dana Rettke and Danielle Hart. Rettke is first in the nation in hitting at 54% of their attack attempts, according to NCAA.com.
The rest of the team is no joke either, as they have five players with over thirty kills on the season already. The Huskie players have the right mindset coming into the game.
“Our biggest thing for everyone is to give them the same amount of respect we would as any other team,” junior outside hitter Katie Jablonski said. “And not have it take up our whole mind, they’re just another team.”
That mindset is trickling down to everyone on the team, even the underclassmen like freshman middle blocker Charlie Atiemo. What’s most impressive about her career might be the strong mentality she has at such an early stage.
“Coming in I was determined to set the bar high for myself,” Atiemo said. “I’m a hard worker and I don’t really back down from any challenges.”
Atiemo’s college career is off to a fast start with a 61% hitting percentage in her first game. Atiemo has high praise for the Badgers but isn’t afraid of the schools ranking.
“I saw a couple thing from them,” Atiemo said. “They’re obviously the second team in the country, but realizing ‘Hey, they’re just like us, just a little taller.”
The Badgers are currently 6-0 this season, winning four out of the six matches in straight sets. Wisconsin has victories over ranked teams like the Baylor University Bears and the 2020 National Champions the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
As for the Huskie team it’s important to be playing at a high level going into the Mid-American Conference part of the schedule. The team knows that the Badgers will give them a good tune-up for conference play.
“We really want to have a positive end to our preseason going into MAC,” Jablonski said. “For us it’s about keeping up the good energy and atmosphere for the MAC.”
Both the Huskies and the Badgers have tune-up games against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Green Bay currently has a 4-6 record overall. NIU plays Green Bay at 6 p.m. on Thursday, while Wisconsin plays the Phoenix at 6 p.m. on Friday. Both games are at Victor E. Court.