Volleyball: Cats hope to turn season around against Michigan and Michigan State
October 11, 2012
Welsh-Ryan Arena has not been friendly to Northwestern this season. After last Saturday’s loss against Ohio State, the Wildcats dropped to 3-4 in Evanston and are still searching for their first Big Ten win at home.
For coach Keylor Chan and the rest of the Cats, a road trip in the Great Lakes State might be just what they need to get going.
“Maybe we need to get away," Chan said. "Sometimes there are just too many distractions.”
This weekend, NU (12-5, 1-5 Big Ten) will face off against No. 25 Michigan State (15-3, 3-3) on Friday and Michigan (15-6, 3-4) on Saturday, hoping to improve after its poor start to conference play.
“Our expectations are to play great volleyball and to be a great team,” Chan said.
For the Cats to get a win, they will need to fix their season-long problem of allowing extended runs. In each of the team’s Big Ten losses this year, NU has taken early leads in sets before fading down the stretch. A clear example of this was in the first set against No. 19 Ohio State (13-5, 4-2), in which the Cats gave up four scoring runs that included 5- and 6-point runs. The Buckeyes went on to win the frame 25-13 and took the match in straight sets.
To limit these runs, Chan has made the team work on playing its game and not worrying about the opponent. The goal for this week is to keep opponents' runs at two points.
“If they are dictating the pace we're going to try to slow it down, come in the middle, refocus ourselves, then play our game,” senior libero Julie Chin said.
NU currently stands 11th in the conference, with its only win against Indiana (8-10, 0-6). The upcoming schedule does not make winning any easier, as the Big Ten placed seven teams in the most recent top 25 rankings.
“Every Big Ten game is very important to our regular season and postseason aspirations,” sophomore outside hitter Monica McGreal said. “Playing Michigan and Michigan State away, it's definitely a big game for us.”
Despite the team’s recent struggles, many of the players are confident they can play good volleyball.
“I think we're feeling good going into this weekend,” McGreal said. "I think everyone is going to be focused and we're going to be ready to play.”