Volleyball: Winning lets Chan ‘Party in the USA’

Sarah Kuta and Sarah Kuta

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Though there’s nothing more coach Keylor Chan loves than Big Ten wins, Miley Cyrus is a close second.

Last weekend marked several milestones for the Wildcats, including the team’s first Big Ten wins of the season and the 11th-year coach’s 150th career win. Chan has the second-most wins in Northwestern coaching history.

These accomplishments added up to one thing: Chan’s very own rendition of “Party in the U.S.A.”

“When he’s happy, he loves to sing,” junior middle blocker Naomi Johnson said. “He’ll be tossing balls at us or hitting balls at us and he’ll just belt out Miley Cyrus or Bob Marley or whatever he’s feeling that day.”

Though Chan, or “Key-Key,” as his team affectionately calls him, may not be modest about his singing voice, he is humble about reaching the 150-win mark.

“Those are nice milestones, but it’s about this team and this year,” he said. “Hopefully there’ll be a lot more wins in the future.”

Chan’s victory could not have come at a better time. After winning three of its first four tournaments, NU lost four straight Big Ten games. Last weekend, the Cats broke through to outlast Purdue and Indiana in five sets apiece.

Now, with two Big Ten wins, the Cats (11-7, 2-4 Big Ten) are ready to carry that momentum to Champaign, Ill., where they will go head-to-head with in-state rival No. 12 Illinois. NU hasn’t lost in four trips to face the Fighting Illini.

“We’re going to come out on fire,” Johnson said.

The Illini (12-3, 4-2 Big Ten) also nabbed wins last weekend over Purdue and Indiana, one week after upsetting No. 6 Michigan in five sets. Outside hitters Kylie McCulley and Laura

DeBruler led the Illini against Purdue with 20 kills each.

NU’s main focus will be stopping Illinois’ powerful outside hitters, a challenge junior middle blocker Sabel Moffett is ready to handle. Moffett knocked down a career-best 24 kills and added seven blocks versus Indiana.

“Just knowing who their key hitters are and who they want to get the ball to makes a big difference as a blocker,” Moffett said.

Both Johnson and Moffett agreed the in-state rivalry makes playing Illinois on the road one of the best matches of the season. For Johnson, this match is the Cats’ biggest test because it determines which team will reign supreme in the state of Illinois.

“We’re looking to be the best team in the state,” she said. “They’ve been good in the past and that just makes us gun for them even more. We love taking a win away from them at their home court.”

But Moffett said she would like to see a stronger rivalry. The junior cited the intensity between Michigan and Michigan State as an example of what she would like to see between NU and Illinois.

“We play not necessarily for just glory, but also for their respect,” she said. “I think therivalry could be a bigger component.”

A win against Illinois could mean obtaining that respect. It could also mean hearing Bob

Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry” at Thursday’s practice.

Johnson is okay with that.

“Hopefully his good mood will be a little more often now that we’ve had some good wins under our belt,” she said. “Maybe we’ll hear a little bit more singing.”sarahkuta2012@u.northwestern.edu