Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Volleyball: Northwestern begins homestand against Indiana, Purdue

With more than half of their conference season behind them, the Wildcats look to earn critical wins this weekend to advance in the Big Ten and seek a spot at the national championship.

Northwestern (15-8, 4-8 Big Ten) will take on Indiana (10-14, 2-10)  Friday and Purdue (16-7, 7-5) on Saturday, both in the familiar confines of Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The Cats will face an Indiana squad with a weak conference record who found their first Big Ten win only recently. The Boilermakers will enter the matchup ranked No. 22 but remain a team with flaws. Purdue lost in straight sets to both Iowa and Indiana, teams that NU has had little difficulty defeating this season.

NU has already beaten its share of ranked opponents this year, so Purdue poses no extra threat.

“You never know what’s going to happen every night in the Big Ten,” sophomore outside hitter Yewande Akanbi said. “(Purdue) can end up playing well, or they can end up playing really bad, and that’s why it’s important we focus on our side and play really well. I feel confident that we can beat them.”

The Cats are coming off of another split weekend, losing to No. 10 Minnesota and beating Wisconsin in a five-set battle. NU hopes to use the Wisconsin victory as motivation and carry the momentum into the weekend’s matches.

“With Wisconsin we were actually behind, but we came back and won,” freshman defensive specialist Abbie Kraus said. “I think that has to do with our confidence, and we know we can beat them.”

However, not everything went perfectly in Madison. The Badgers recorded eight service aces against the Cats, highlighting NU’s inconsistent passing skills. When points end before hitters get their chance at the ball, the Cats are unable to show off their offensive capabilities.

“Our serve receive could get a lot better,” Kraus said. “Our hitters did a tremendous job putting the ball down, so if we could get our serve receive up to par then we’ll be good.”

For coach Keylor Chan, the issue may have been a result of what happened on the other side of the net.

“We had some serve receive breakdowns this past weekend, but I think it has to do with the types of teams we were playing and the type of serving that they had,” Chan said.

Despite this, Chan says the team has paid attention to passing in this week’s practices, both for service receive and defending opponents’ go-to hitters. With these tune-ups, the Cats are more prepared to the find key wins that will spur them to a strong finish to the end of the season and beyond.

“We’re home five out of the last eight matches, so I like where we’re headed right now,” Chan said. “It’s a chance for us to do some really great things in this last month of conference play.”

If NU succeeds in sweeping its conference foes this weekend, it bolsters its chances for an invite to the NCAA tournament, which would be only its second invite in the last five years.

“A lot of the teams that we’re going to play, we can beat,” Akanbi said. “We can definitely go to the tournament. I feel good about the rest of the season.”

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Volleyball: Northwestern begins homestand against Indiana, Purdue