NU enjoys role reversal in 2 weekend sweeps (Volleyball)

Nick Halpern

Coming off their worst weekend in recent memory, the Northwestern volleyball team (13-9, 4-6 Big Ten) needed to put the past behind them.

After being swept by both Michigan and Michigan State last weekend, NU found itself on the other side of two blowouts against Indiana (9-12, 2-8) and Purdue (12-8, 5-5).

The Wildcats took their frustration out in sweeping Indiana (30-24, 30-20, 30-26) on Friday and Purdue (30-17, 32-30, 30-26) on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“The Michigan trip is behind us,” said Christie Gardner. “We just really need to concentrate on putting the past behind us and give ourselves a chance to win every game.”

The Cats came out strong against a struggling Indiana team, winning the first game going away behind strong performances from Erika Lange, Leah Delcourt, and Iwona Lodzik, who led the team with 16 kills in the match. NU never relinquished the lead in the second game, and while the Hoosiers made a run in the third game, the Cats held on for the sweep.

“The win tonight was all about an attitude change,” NU coach Keylor Chan said. “We knew we had to play at another level to be contenders.”

The match against the Hoosiers was crucial because entering the weekend the teams were tied in the Big Ten. NU hopes to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row.

“We wanted it, we knew what it took and we wouldn’t accept less,” Chan said. “I’m extremely happy with the way we rebounded from last weekend’s losses.”

Perhaps aiding in NU’s revival was the re-installation of the system they used last season, which was given its first trial against Indiana.

“Our last system was working okay,” Gardner said, “but hopefully this one will work a little better.”

A bigger test of the Cats’ renaissance would come against Purdue. NU won the first game going away, compiling a .383 attack percentage that nearly was 12 times higher than Purdue’s.

The Boilermakers led 25-20 in the second game, but Lange served for four straight points to force two game points. Lodzik served the game’s final two points, including the last of her five match service aces.

Purdue’s hitting woes continued with a .108 attack percentage in the third game, and NU closed out a successful Homecoming weekend.

After hitting rock bottom after last weekend’s debacles in Michigan, NU now has a chance to get back to .500 when it travels to Penn State and Ohio State this weekend.

“Our team is back,” Lodzik said. “We really needed these wins, and I think they boosted our confidence.”