Volleyball: NU loses pair of Big Ten road contests, Nobilio makes history

Sarah Kuta and Sarah Kuta

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As far as coach Keylor Chan is concerned, Northwestern never got off the bus Friday night in Iowa City, Iowa. That night, the Wildcats fell to the Hawkeyes in three sets.

“We were just going through the motions,” junior middle blocker Sabel Moffett said.On Saturday, Chan got his team back and thanked it for showing up.

Still, NU (11-11, 2-8 Big Ten) was unable to top Wisconsin and finished the weekend with an 0-2 record. The Cats fell to the Hawkeyes in three sets and to the Badgers in four.Iowa (11-11, 3-7) built an early 10-4 lead in the first set. The Cats rallied to tie the match at 15, but could not take the lead. At 24-19, Iowa held off a four-point run by the Cats to take the set 25-23.

In the second set, the Cats used a 13-4 run to build a 19-14 advantage. But the Hawkeyes responded with a 13-6 scoring drive to fight off set point and take set two 27-25.

“We just couldn’t figure out a way to get the team to come together for two points,” Moffett said. “There’s no doubt in any of our minds that we should have won that set.”Iowa used that momentum to take control of set three. The Hawkeyes built a 16-9 lead, but the Cats used a 10-3 run to tie the set at 19. Iowa was able to hold off NU and take the set and the match 25-21.

Though NU was unable to take advantage of its late-set position against Iowa, there was at least one positive to take away from the loss. Senior libero Kate Nobilio surpassed the 2,000-dig mark, becoming the fifth player in Big Ten history to do so.

Lucky for Chan, the rest of his team decided to join Nobilio in Madison, Wis. The team played what Moffett called a “total 180” from Iowa to Wisconsin and was pleased with its improvement from the night before.

“Although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, it was better progress from Iowa,” sophomore outside hitter Alexandra Ayers said.

In the opening set, Wisconsin (10-9, 5-5) built an early 11-5 lead in front of nearly 3,500 fans. The Badgers scored the first point and never trailed, building their lead to seven at 16-9 before taking the set 25-19.

Set two was a different story, as the teams exchanged points early in the set. After a tie at 10, the Cats pulled away with a 7-2 rally. The Badgers shortened the lead to two at 19-17, but the Cats finished strong to win 25-19, tying the match 1-1.

The teams went back and forth during set three, with six ties and four lead changes. NU led 22-19 after a service ace by Nobilio, but Wisconsin took six of the next seven points to win the set 25-23. Late in the third set, Wisconsin outside hitter and freshman Kirby Toon’s serve proved too much for the Cats. Because NU had to pass to the outside, the Badgers could predict where the Cats would set the ball.

“It wasn’t a hard serve,” Ayers said. “But if you miss a pass on one, it becomes totally mental.”

From that point on, the complexion of the game changed. The Badgers rode their newfound momentum to a 25-20 win, though the two teams battled for 10 ties and four lead changes.

After two disappointing losses, Moffett said she knows her team has to get back on track for the second half of the season.

“I’m not happy,” she said. “The other teams didn’t win, we gave the win away by not playing to our capabilities. We all know what we have to do.”sarahkuta2012@u.northwestern.edu