The Northern Illinois University volleyball team fell in three sets to DePaul in the opening match of the DePaul Invitational on Thursday (Sept. 7) at McGrath-Phillips Arena (25-20, 25-23, 25-13). Charli Atiemo (Milford, Mich./Farmington Hills Mercy), Emily Dykes (Winterville, N.C./Ayden-Grifton) and Nikolette Nedic (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale Central) each recorded nine kills for the Huskies.

Dykes hit a team-best .467 in the match while Atiemo was close behind at .438, DePaul hit .369 as a team with Jill Pressly and Audrey Klemp each recording 12 kills.

“Despite the score, tonight was a step in the right direction for us,” said NIU head coach Sondra Parys. “We executed a lot of things we worked on this week, and we got better throughout the match. Now we just have to continue to learn how to execute in key moments. DePaul is a high-level, Big East team that pushed us, but I am proud of how we implemented some of the things we have been working on, that’s the biggest takeaway for us.”

The opening set was tied at nine before DePaul used a four-point burst to take a 13-9 advantage. Following a kill from Dykes, three consecutive Huskie miscues helped the Blue Demons increased their lead to 16-10. DePaul’s lead grew to 23-15 before the Huskies closed back to within four, only to see the Blue Demons close out the set, 25-20.

DePaul hit .226 in the opening set, Pressly recorded six kills on 10 swings for the Blue Demons.

From tied at 12 midway through the set, DePaul built a five-point lead, 21-16, in set number two before the Huskies fought back to even at 22. Dykes had a pair of kills during the 6-1 burst that brought NIU level, but a pair of Huskie errors, along with a kill from Klemp, helped the Blue Demons close out the set, 25-23.

Klemp and Meghan Scholz each had four kills to lead DePaul in the set as the Blue Demons hit .345. Dykes recorded five kills on seven swings for NIU.

The Blue Demons made just one error and hit .583 to close the match in the third set. DePaul jumped out to a 13-4 advantage in the set and didn’t look back, Pressly finished with five kills in the third.

NIU will be back in action at the DePaul Invitational on Friday, Sept. 8, when the Huskies take on Evansville. First serve against the Purple Aces is slated for 4 p.m.