Women’s Volleyball: Wildcats’ win streak ends at 11

Northwestern+middle+blocker+Katie+Dutchman+%28center%29+and+safety+Madalyn+Shalter+%28right%29+react+as+a+ball+sails+past+them+in+the+final+set+of+their+Sept.+23+defeat+by+Minnesota.
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Women’s Volleyball: Wildcats’ win streak ends at 11

Northwestern middle blocker Katie Dutchman (center) and safety Madalyn Shalter (right) react as a ball sails past them in the final set of their Sept. 23 defeat by Minnesota.

Northwestern middle blocker Katie Dutchman (center) and safety Madalyn Shalter (right) react as a ball sails past them in the final set of their Sept. 23 defeat by Minnesota.

Rafi Letzter/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern middle blocker Katie Dutchman (center) and safety Madalyn Shalter (right) react as a ball sails past them in the final set of their Sept. 23 defeat by Minnesota.

Rafi Letzter/The Daily Northwestern

Rafi Letzter/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern middle blocker Katie Dutchman (center) and safety Madalyn Shalter (right) react as a ball sails past them in the final set of their Sept. 23 defeat by Minnesota.

Dan Ryan, Sports Editor

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Northwestern entered the weekend at 11-0, taking its best win streak since 1983 into conference play.

The Big Ten, however was not impressed with the Wildcats run of success. NU fell to Wisconsin 3-1 on Friday before dropping another four set match to No. 12 Minnesota on Sunday, losing its first two conference meetings in the process. Coach Keylor Chan said the poor showing came down to poor execution by the Cats rather than a superior opponent.

“It was nothing that we didn’t see (during the streak),” Chan said. “It was surely execution at the end. It was 23 to 24 in set one, and we miss a serve in the net that gives them the game. And then we’re up 22 to 17 in set three, and we can’t side out in that rotation. And that’s a good rotation for us.”

The Cats trailed for most of the first set against the Badgers, as Wisconsin kept NU at a four-point distance on the back of strong hitting. The Cats rallied toward the end of the set, pulling within one at 23-24, but a service error by sophomore middle blocker Katie Dutchman gave Wisconsin the set.

NU kept the momentum from the rally going in the second frame, jumping out to a 16-11 lead before holding off a late Badger rally to tie the match at one. After halftime, however, Wisconsin pulled itself together, and despite the Cats keeping the match close, the Badgers took the final two sets 26-24 and 25-23.

“We came out, and we fought for every point,” senior setter Madalyn Shalter said. “We just came up a little short. (We can do better at) serving aggressive. We can definitely get the other team out of system more. Passing, blocking, the whole mixture. Everything can improve.”

Looking to bounce back against a tough Minnesota squad on Sunday, NU came out firing and took the first set. The Cats won the first five points and never trailed in the frame en route to a 25-17 win. The Golden Gophers turned the tide in the second set, taking the frame 25-18 and tying the match. The momentum Minnesota had gained would prove to be too much for NU, and the Cats dropped the final two sets 21-25 and 15-25.

“Us coming out so strong gave them a lot of motivation to come out and kick our butts,” Dutchman said. “They’re a big team, big compared to us. And they just kind of got the energy and took charge of the game.”

Despite the losses, Chan saw things to like about his squad moving forward.

“You want to win, that’s for sure,” Chan said. “But we took a tough one against Wisconsin. I thought we played okay, and I wanted to see how we would come out and perform. We came out and we pushed, and that’s what you want to see. That’s something that we’re working on. It’s a tough weekend for us. You never want to get swept at home. Hopefully we learn from this.”

Stephanie Holthus offered no excuses for the Cats’ poor start to their Big Ten season.

“We just have to come out and play better volleyball,” the junior outside hitter said.

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