Volleyball: Wildcats travel to Ohio State for critical match against Buckeyes

Daily file photo by Brennan Anderson

Northwestern outside hitter Stephanie Holthus and her teammates look to have yet another strong road showing against Ohio State. Coach Keylor Chan admitted the next few matches are crucial if NU hopes to make the postseason.

Ben Taylor, Reporter
November 6, 2012 •

Even after election season, Ohio remains a swing state for Northwestern.

After dropping back-to-back matches without winning a set last weekend, NU’s match at Ohio State on Wednesday is critical in deciding whether or not the team will make the NCAA Tournament.

“I think it’s a big game for us,” sophomore outside hitter Monica McGreal said. “We only have six games left, so every game moving forward is important for our aspirations for the end of the season.”

The Wildcats (15-10, 4-10 Big Ten) will take on the No. 15 Buckeyes (18-8, 9-5) for the second time this season. In the first matchup, Ohio State dominated at Welsh-Ryan Arena, as the Cats lost the match 3-0.

“You have to get prepared for Ohio State, another great team,” coach Keylor Chan said. “We're going to have to really come out and play some of our best volleyball, and it's time for us to start doing that now.”

The Cats will not have to deal with playing at home tomorrow. This season, NU has played considerably better outside of Welsh-Ryan Arena, currently holding an 11-4 record on the road as opposed to a 4-6 record at home. The Cats have only won one Big Ten game in Evanston.

Sophomore middle blocker Savannah Paffen tried to put her finger on the reason for the team's road success.

“I know on the road at least, I love getting energy from opposing fans and I feel like our team just gets more pumped up," Paffen said. "But at home you should feel pumped up because we have our own fans.”

Since 2008, NU’s record against Ohio State is 1-8, with the only win coming last year, when the team upset the 22-ranked Buckeyes 3-2 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“We’ve got to play well,” Chan said about the match. “We have to have the effort that we had against Purdue and the execution we had earlier in the year if we expect to compete and give ourselves a chance against Ohio State.”

The outcome of this match will affect the future of the Cats' season. Currently ninth in the Big Ten with only six matches remaining, every win matters, especially given that three of the remaining teams NU faces are currently ranked in the top 25. This season, the Cats have only been able to pick up one win against a ranked opponent, upsetting the then-No. 25 Michigan State (19-7, 7-7) 3-1 in East Lansing, Mich.

For Chan, knowing that his team needs to win several matches to have a shot at making the postseason is actually a positive.

“It all comes down to this, which is a good thing,” Chan said. “Some teams are done for the year (without) making the postseason. It’s a good place to be, but we have our work cut out for us ahead.”

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