Freshman playing key role for Cats (Volleyball)

Jimmy Mitchell

Looking to rebound from a five-game skid, the Wildcats, led by a redshirt freshmen with strong offensive skills, have two opportunities for victories on the road this weekend.

Northwestern (10-7, 1-5 Big Ten) is scheduled to take on Purdue (10-7, 3-3) on Friday. The Cats will then face Indiana (12-6, 3-3) the next day.

Outside hitter Brittani Gray, a redshirt freshman who has emerged during the season as an impressive fixture in the starting lineup, will be on display this weekend.

Gray shifted to her current position in an unusual move last season. Given her redshirt status, last season proved to be a learning year intended to prepare Gray for playing at the college level.

“As a redshirt, I got the opportunity to learn from the older girls that had played my position for years,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and commitment from the coaching staff and the team to help you train for a new position.”

Since then, she has become one of the dominant hitters for the team. Along with senior outside hitters Lindsay Anderson and Courtnie Paulus, Gray is a key member of the Cats’ offensive attack. She is second on the team with 185 total kills and is averaging 3.49 kills per game, trailing only Anderson for the team lead in both categories. Her .263 hitting percentage is also third on the team.

With the second-most attempts on the team, Gray is an attacker who opposing clubs must plan for defensively. However, Gray also has the second-most errors on NU with 68, which is something that goes with the territory of having so many attempts.

It’s a problem that she has been attempting to remedy throughout the year.

“One of the things that defines Northwestern volleyball is low-error play,” Gray said. “We force the other team to (make errors) by keeping the ball in play, and that has been one of my major goals throughout the season.”

Inconsistent play and unforced errors have accounted for some of NU’s struggles during the last two weeks. But if Gray continues to build on her solid play for the Cats, NU’s future could be very bright.

According to Gray, all that goes back to being able to learn and progress at NU before playing in a match this year.

“Redshirting really helped me develop my skills so that I could come out this year and really help my team,” she said.

Reach Jimmy Mitchell at [email protected]