Volleyball: Northwestern nets mixed results on Hoosier State roadtrip

Steven Montero

Northwestern had mixed feelings upon its return home, as it stretched its winning streak to four with an easy 3-0 victory at Indiana on Friday, only to fall in the same fashion Saturday at the hands of then-No. 11 Purdue.

“It was a solid weekend,” coach Keylor Chan said. “You always want to win them both but each time you can get a split on the road it’s a good thing.”

The Wildcats experienced a short-lived surprise in Bloomington, Ind., when the Hoosiers took control early, establishing a 13-7 lead in the first set over NU. The Cats played essentially error-free volleyball to finish out the set, however, defeating the Hoosiers 25-21 to take a one-set lead. They continued their dominance over the next two sets, consistently minimizing the number of points Indiana put on the scoreboard.

“We came out focused and we knew what we had to do,” Chan said. “We obviously knew we were the better team and so we came out there with confidence and we just did our job.”

NU recorded only five attacking errors, its lowest number this season, against Indiana, but the Cats would plunge into disaster Saturday just 100 miles away in West Lafayette, Ind.

Facing a hostile road environment consisting of 766 fans, NU struggled to adapt.

“Purdue had a great atmosphere,” Chin said. “Their gym was packed. They had a band going on. It’s probably one of the best Big Ten atmospheres you can be in and we came in confident but we just weren’t focused.”

The lack of focus showed as the Cats were swept for only the third time this season.

“We had good plays but we couldn’t string things together,” Chan said. “Nothing was working that night. It was kind of one of those fluke games.”

Chan said a major problem on the court was the “huge” size of the Boilermakers’ blockers, who kept the Cats’ attackers at bay. The curse of the day, however, was a wildly unfamiliar 31 total errors in only three sets.

“We hadn’t been making a lot of errors recently and sometimes it’s just not your day, ” Chan said. “Purdue played extremely well and I give them a lot of credit. They were able to take us out of our rhythm throughout the whole entire match.”

NU was bested in every single statistical category against Purdue. Chan said the Boilermakers “really outplayed and outcoached” the Cats.

The last time these teams met, on Sept. 28th at Welsh-Ryan Arena, NU was able to take a set against then-undefeated Purdue. Freshman Yewande Akanbi and Chan both said there was something missing in Saturday’s match.

“We weren’t our normal selves,” Akanbi said. “We weren’t playing Northwestern volleyball and the energy was just kind of low. No one was really hyped up. I don’t think we were mentally there or focused. That’s why we lost.”

Chan said the Cats weren’t satisfied with their loss to the Boilermakers but that they’ll take the split on the road as a positive sign. Chan said that it wasn’t an issue of approach, but NU simply suffered from an off day while facing a tough opponent.

“We had a bad day, ” Chan said. “Everybody had a bad day and Purdue played very well. That night they obviously showed that they were the better team. We lost in three and it’s one of those things where we need to learn from it and move on.”

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