NU looks to finish rough 1st half on a high note (Volleyball)

Nick Halpern

Since the beginning of Big Ten play, the Northwestern volleyball team (11-9, 2-6 Big Ten) has struggled. Coming off a miserable weekend in Michigan, NU will take on the Hoosier State, hosting Indiana (9-10, 2-6) Friday and Purdue (12-6, 5-3) Saturday in two must-win games.

“I think we definitely need to win both games because these are the last two games of the first half,” sophomore outside hitter Christie Gardner said. “It would really help us to end the first half 4-6, because if we’re 3-7 that would put us behind. We still could take top four in the Big Ten and that’s what we’re shooting for, so this is definitely crucial to us.”

This weekend, the Wildcats will need a change in fortune after failing to win a game, much less a match, against the Spartans or Wolverines.

“We just need to put it past us — I think we already have,” junior outside hitter Jill Buschur said. “We’re not looking backward, we’re just looking forward.”

Because of the recent struggles, coach Keylor Chan has resurrected the formation from last year which could ameliorate a defense that has been struggling.

“It should change it up a bit and give them something they haven’t seen before, so that’ll be good,” Gardner said. “Our last system was working okay, but hopefully this one will work a little better.”

The biggest weakness of the Cats in the first half of the Big Ten season has been their difficulty maintaining a high level of play over an entire game. They lost leads of 18-9 against Michigan State and 5-1 against Michigan, but measures have been taken to rectify the problem.

“The past few days we’ve been working on the exact same things,” Gardner said. “Each player has a specific thing they have to get done, and we’ve been working on getting it done with consistency, so hopefully it’ll reflect in the game.”

Indiana has had struggles similar to those of NU this year in the Big Ten, while Purdue, tied for fifth in the conference, promises to be a tough match.

“We can’t look past any team because every team in the Big Ten is basically even so far,” Gardner said. “We’re tied with (Indiana), so it’s a really important game. But we know we’re the better team.”

Despite the arduous road ahead, the Cats remain confident.

“There’s not a team in the Big Ten we can’t beat,” Buschur said.