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: Indiana, Purdue sweep Northwestern

Daily file photo by Sarah Tassoni
Katie Dutchman and the Wildcats failed to win a set on the weekend and looked flat during stretches against Indiana. NU brought more intensity against Purdue but lost by the same margin.

Northwestern received two conference losses this weekend but used the quick turnaround between matches to fix its problems, putting up a respectable fight against a ranked opponent.

The Wildcats (15-10, 4-10 Big Ten) hosted Indiana (11-15, 3-11) and Purdue (18-7, 9-5) this weekend and were swept by both Big Ten teams. However, NU’s play and focus could not have been more different between the matches; the team came out lackluster against the Hoosiers but found its stride against the Boilermakers.

“(Friday) night was kind of a mess,” sophomore middle block Katie Dutchman said. “But (against Purdue) we fought really hard; we had a lot of effort.”

Indiana came in with a much quicker start than NU, looking as if it had something to prove after losing the last meetup with the Cats. 

The Hoosiers used serving to their advantage from the outset, getting to a quick 4-point lead and never looking back. Short serves to NU’s hitters threw the Cats out of rotation, which made it difficult to make a play.

“We worked on it (in practice), and the girls were prepared for it. We just didn’t play very well,” coach Keylor Chan said.

The second set went no differently. Indiana’s short serve continued to cause problems for NU, and although Dutchman and senior setter Madalyn Shalter were connecting well, the Cats couldn’t seem to put up enough of an offense to take down the Hoosiers. NU lost the second set 14-25.

NU started the third with a kill from Dutchman, which gave the Cats the first point and their first lead of the night. The teams traded points throughout the set, eventually taking the game to 23-23. Although the Cats had regained their focus, the points just did not go their way, and they lost the third and final set 23-25.

Saturday night elicited a much different response from NU. The Cats brought more focus and tighter play from the start, going blow for blow with the visitors.

However, two kills in a row from the Boilermakers’ setter highlighted the Cats’ weak tip defense. The Cats eventually adjusted to these tips, but a variety of Boilermaker attacks coming from all parts of the floor proved troublesome for NU.

“They have multiple hitters coming at you in a lot of rotations and it’s hard to account for all of them,” Chan said. “I thought we did a pretty good job controlling certain hitters, but obviously they won because they were able to really control us.”

This control was due in large part to Purdue’s dominating blocking, which put up seven blocks in the first set. Junior outside hitter Stephanie Holthus only found three kills from 19 attacks, and only sophomore hitter Yewande Akanbi achieved a positive kill percentage. NU lost the first set 17-25.

By the second set, the Cats discovered the necessary changes for Purdue’s big block.

“We recognized they were blocking us really well, and we had to make adjustments and swing off their hands,” Dutchman said.

By hitting around and off the block, NU allowed Purdue to only earn two and four blocks in the second and third sets, respectively. All but one of NU’s hitters marked a positive hitting percentage in the second frame.

Purdue was not finished making life difficult for NU. The Boilermakers consistently targeted Dutchman by serving well inside the 10-foot line in an attempt to throw off NU’s offense.

“There’s a couple Big Ten teams that do that, and sometimes it’s effective,” Dutchman said. “They knew that if I pass the ball then they’re probably going to set me, so it was easier for them to read.”

The Cats were able to keep the lead in the second set until 15-15, where, after an NU timeout, the Boilermakers came back to take the second set 25-17.

The third set went similarly to the first two. Senior libero Julie Chin performed exceptionally well defensively, totaling 21 digs by the end of the match. The final set ended again with Purdue up 25-17.

Although the Cats could have really used these conference wins, the team is still looking at the weekend in a positive light. Their match against the Hoosiers will be something they need to forget quickly, but they were pleased with their performance against the Boilermakers.

Shalter attributed Friday’s loss to a mixture of low energy and poor play.

“That was not Northwestern volleyball,” she said. Saturday, on the other hand, is a performance she would like to repeat.

“Our focus was there. We played hard and we fought every single point. Purdue just played tough,” Shalter said. “We played tough, too, and things fell their way. But as long as we keep this mental toughness and the will to keep winning every single point, it will get us there in the upcoming games.”

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Volleyball: Indiana, Purdue sweep Northwestern