Volleyball: Northwestern picks up first Big Ten win against Indiana

Steven Montero

Northwestern earned its first Big Ten win Saturday when it took on Indiana at home.

The Wildcats (10-5, 1-3 Big Ten) left the Hoosiers (8-8, 0-4) without a leg to lean on as NU took them down in three sets.

“Tonight we played our top-notch volleyball,” senior Madalyn Shalter said. “Everybody was focused. We played relaxed. We all had fun out there, smiles. It was an awesome game.”

Shalter said Saturday’s match flowed very smoothly and the highlight was seeing everybody having fun while playing the game. She said everyone did her job correctly, and the biggest thing gained was confidence.

This confidence was apparent during the match as coach Keylor Chan messed around with the Cats’ usual lineup.

Freshman Caroline Niedospial appeared in all three sets, a change from the last couple of weeks of play. Niedospial accumulated four digs during her time on the court and Chan said she did a great job.

“We played exceptionally well in all phases of the game tonight,” Chan said. “We went out and executed. We sustained play and that’s something we talked about. Sustaining the intensity and ability to play at a high level for a long period of time and we were able to do that.”

Junior Kathryn Chrystal said the team’s overall performance and consistency allowed it to take the quick victory.

She pointed to NU’s success serving the ball as a game-changer. The execution of serves throughout the match allowed the Cats to improve their defense, anticipating the direction of the ball and helping them block more effectively.

Shalter said NU’s offense was so spectacular she didn’t have to do much as the team’s setter.

“Everybody served great,” she said. “We kept the pressure on them. Our passing was on par and the hitters put the ball away. It was an easy night for me.”

Although errors were a big problem in NU’s loss to Purdue on Thursday, the Cats were nearly flawless against the Hoosiers. Accumulating 14 total errors throughout the match, NU cut its total by approximately two-thirds from its contest against the Boilermakers.

With a fresh win under its claws, NU will take on an even stronger opponent Wednesday when it travels to Penn State.

“Just having a Big Ten win under our belt helps everybody just being more confident,” Chrystal said.

Confidence can only take the Cats so far, however, and they will need plenty of strong play to defeat No. 8 Penn State on Wednesday. Chan said the Nittany Lions are very good and NU will have to improve before game day. Penn State recently finished pinning down Wisconsin and Minnesota, two teams NU fell victim to in its Big Ten opening weekend.

“Every team’s good and every team can beat us,” Chan said. “This is a good place to start. We’ll enjoy it tonight and then try to get a little better for Penn State. I’m very proud of our team. 10-5 is a good place to be and we’ll continue to get better and hopefully we’ll get to where we need to be at the end of the year.”

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