Jablonski’s NIU journey from sophomore transfer to seasoned leader


Milly Landa

Katie Jablonski (Left) and Charli Atiemo celebrate a point scored at Friday night’s game against the Rams. The huskies won the game, winning three of the four matches. (Milly Landa | Northern Star)

The curtains have almost drawn on the college career of senior outside hitter Katie Jablonski, a standout on the NIU volleyball team and the one-time transfer from New Hampshire.

Jablonski is one of three seniors, all outside hitters, nearing their finale for the Huskies, along with Brianna “Bina” Scuric and Kaitlyn “Kat” Bell. Jablonski’s NIU story had a bit of a different beginning, though.

Making the major move

Jablonski’s college career began at the University of New Hampshire, a public university located in Durham, New Hampshire. She played for the Wildcats for a lone season in 2019 before seeking out a change of scenery after her freshman year.

“Overall, the program wasn’t the greatest fit for me and my personality,” Jablonski said to the Northern Star. “I’m vocal, I talk a lot, and I like to have fun. My personality didn’t show as much as I wanted it to in New Hampshire.”

Jablonski said she was intitally concerned that transferring after freshman year would put her at a disadvantage when trying to establish new relationships.

“When I transferred, it was something, like, I was really worried about because I feel like freshman year is, like, kind of where you make your friends,” Jablonski said. “That’s, like, kind of where you find your people and then you kind of stick with them for the rest of your college career.”

Jablonski’s new home

Jablonski added that Scuric, Bell and former teammate Samantha Juarez made her transition between schools seamless.

“I remember the first time I met them the summer before I got here,” Jablonski said. “I felt like I had known them for two years already…It was, like, the least stressful thing ever, so they just made it super easy. It feels like I’ve been here the whole time with them.”

Looking back, Jablonski said she’ll miss the things from the close connections between teammates to the bus rides for road matches.

“We’re going to grow up,” Jablonski said. “We’re going to move and we’re not going to be super involved in each other’s life…I’ll just miss knowing that I can turn to people who feel the same way I do or know what I’m going through. And then just all those silly little, goofy bus rides, as much as they suck, or hanging out in hotel rooms the night before a game. Just like the little, fun group memories.”

Setting the standard

“There’s been a good maturation process for her,” volleyball head coach Ray Gooden said. “She’s got a tremendous amount of talent. A lot of it was just being able to put it in its proper places.”

Gooden said that Jablonski has grown to be a role model over her three seasons donning NIU’s colors.

“As she’s continued to grow here at NIU, she’s been able to do that to where she can do a lot of things by example…I think she’s been able to embrace a role of trying to make others better and trying to work on people being accountable,“ Gooden said.

Jablonski’s accolades at NIU include a selection to the All-MAC Second Team and a MAC West Offensive Player of the Week honor last season.

Heading into her final two home matches of her college career, Jablonski leads NIU with 246 kills. She has also totaled 25 assists, 13 service aces and a .203 hitting percentage.

Quite a college career

Over four seasons of playing collegiate volleyball, Jablonski has racked up 943 kills – 133 at New Hampshire and 810 at NIU. She has played in 99 matches, making Friday’s match her 100th. Jablonski has also averaged a 0.175 hitting percentage.

Jablonski’s current kills total puts her 57 kills shy of 1,000 career kills. She needs to average 11.4 kills across NIU’s five remaining matches to hit quadruple digits in that category. If NIU secures a berth to the MAC Tournament later this month, her chances of hitting 1k increase.

Jablonski intends to begin working as a financial adviser upon graduation from NIU with a bachelor’s degree in finance. She spent the past summer completing a financial advising internship at Morton Private Wealth Strategies, Inc. in Geneva, Ill.

Jablonski will play her final two matches in front of the home crowd as NIU hosts Central Michigan University at 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at Victor E. Court. She will be honored before Saturday’s match as part of NIU’s senior day celebration.