Bring out the brooms: NU swept twice (Volleyball)

Nick Halpern

The Northwestern volleyball team knew that a trip to Michigan would be a good measuring stick for its season.

If this weekend is any indication, the Wildcats may not be ready for a run at the Big Ten tournament, nevermind the conference championship.

On Friday night, NU (11-9, 2-6 Big Ten) traveled to Michigan (13-6, 5-3) and was brushed off in three games (25-30, 25-30, 24-30).

The first game see-sawed back and forth until the Wolverines took control. The Cats took a brief lead in the second game, winning five of the first six points, but they went on to lose the game and couldn’t make a significant run at Michigan in the third game.

“We’re working on our lack of consistency this week,” Lauren Greenwood said. “We got in and did our thing (in the second game).”

Despite watching her team’s chances diminish, setter Drew Robertson continued her strong play into the final game. She had two kills and 12 assists in the game, bringing her match total to a .559 attack percentage (5-of-9) and eight digs, tied for second on the team. Robertson had 36 assists overall.

Erika Lange ended the match hitting .389, while Lodzik led the Wildcats for the second-straight match in service aces with three.

The victory also marked NU’s 13th straight loss to Michigan at Cliff Keen Arena and snapped a two-match home losing streak for the Wolverines.

Michigan continued its recent Friday night fever, winning its fifth straight Friday evening match by a 3-0 margin, including the last three against Big Ten opponents.

The Wolverines dominated every facet of the match, hitting .342 — including .405 in game two. Michigan’s defense also played tough, limiting the Cats to a .202 hitting percentage while outblocking Northwestern 10-6.

On Saturday, NU had a chance to shine against Michigan State (12-6, 4-4) as the game was being televised on tape-delay Sunday on ESPN2.

The Spartans made it clear who was more ready to play, winning in three games (24-30, 30-32, 19-30). The first game of the match was a dog fight, with Michigan State coming out on top after strong play late in the game.

The Cats came out strong again in the second game, building a lead of 18-9, but again were unable to hold the lead.

After halftime, the Spartans ruled out any homes of a comeback by dominating the third game.

Robertson had 36 assists and five digs in the match. Lodzik led the team with a .314 attack percentage and 11 digs.

“When our serve is aggressive, it opens up blocking opportunities and everyone blocked well tonight,” said Michigan State head coach Chuck Erbe. “Our defense was better because our blocking was more solid. I was very pleased with the comeback in game two.

“We were behind, but we found a way to be successful,” he said. “I feel we are at a crossroads; a lot of teams are fighting for position in the Big Ten. This was a crucial win and a confidence builder.”

NU fell into a tie for eighth in the conference with the two losses. The Cats will host Purdue and Indiana at Welsh-Ryan Arena this weekend.