NU gets production from all over the court in fast start

Jimmy Mitchell

As the 2007 season crosses the threshold into conference play, the Wildcats look to build upon their early successes.

Having won seven straight matches and nine of their first 11, the Cats have benefited from quality performances up and down their roster.

Sophomore Kate Nobilio has received multiple honors and is a key component of the team’s defensive play. She was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after her performance at the Wildcat Classic tournament on Sept. 14-15, where she also received the MVP award.

Nobilio is ranked sixth in the nation with 6.33 digs per game. Although only in her second year, she is no stranger to records: Nobilio was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team last season after recording 508 digs, second-most in school history.

The Cats’ offensive attack has been lead by senior Lindsay Anderson, juniors Chelsy Hyser and Courtnie Paulus and freshman Brittani Gray. Of the team’s four top scorers, Hyser leads the pack with a .370 hitting percentage, exceeding her 2006 percentage, which, at .289, is sixth in school history.

A combination of youth and experience has propelled the team during the first stretch of the season. Freshman setter Elyse Glab leads the team, as well as the Big Ten, with a mark of 13.91 assists per game. Anderson, the recipient of many well-placed sets by Glab, is first on the squad in both total kills (178) and kills per game (4.05).

Northwestern’s other seasoned veterans include seniors Brittney Aldridge and Stephanie Jurivich. Aldridge serves as both an offensive and defensive threat, having finished the 2006 season ranked second in hitting percentage and in total blocks. Jurivich, after placing sixth in NU history for assists in 2006, is now part of a highly productive setting tandem with Glab. The two have a combined 566 assists in the early season.

Sophomore Ariel Baxterbeck has also returned for NU and looks to build upon last season, in which she saw action in 96 games.

The promising freshman class includes Glab, Gray, Naomi Johnson, and Lindsay Kresch. Kresch was listed as No. 61 on PrepVolleyball.com’s “Senior Aces” list for 2006, while Johnson was ranked No. 95.

The remaining conference schedule contains a litter of top-ranked opponents. The Wildcats face ninth-ranked Wisconsin twice, including in Evanston on Friday. No. 10 Michigan and No. 12 Minnesota appear twice, and both No. 3 Penn State and No. 23 Ohio State will battle the Cats in early November. Rounding out the remaining schedule are conference rivals Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, and Purdue.

Reach Jimmy Mitchell at [email protected]