Volleyball: Wildcats ride hot streak into Penn State game

David Lee, Reporter

After defeating three straight Big Ten opponents, Northwestern (12-7, 4-3 Big Ten) is setting its sights on its toughest opponent yet, No. 2 Penn State (14-2, 5-1).

The Wildcats recently beat two consecutive ranked opponents, then-No. 20 Boilermakers (11-6, 2-4) and then-No. 17 Buckeyes (14-5, 2-5). It is the first time since 2010 that NU has done so.

Senior outside hitter Stephanie Holthus said she believes the team’s success can continue.

“As long as we as a team all come out and do what we’ve been doing the last couple games, then it’s going to be all we need in order to win that game,” she said.

Penn State will arrive in Evanston on Sunday after playing Illinois on Friday. The Nittany Lions are currently in the midst of a five-game winning streak.

“They’re the top team in the Big Ten and have been more times than not,” coach Keylor Chan said. We’re going to have to play really well to beat them.”

NU’s chances of victory depend on the continued development of freshman setter Caleigh Ryan and freshman outsider hitter Kayla Morin. Ryan just won her second Big Ten Freshman of the Week award and leads the Big Ten with 11.42 assists per set. She has a combined 157 assists in the past three games.

Morin, on the other hand, has found success as the Cats’ do-it-all utility player. She is the only freshman to start all 16 games this season and is also listed as a right side attacker. Although she posts an unremarkable .198 hitting percentage for the season, she helped push NU to victory over Ohio State on Wednesday with a .319 percentage.

Chan said he looks forward to further squad development.

“We’ve really continued to grow every week, and that’s the difference between us (now) and a month ago,” Chan said. “We’re excited about the direction that we’re moving and we still have a lot ahead of us and a lot of work to do.”

NU fans will get to see some of that work in action at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Sunday.

But until then, the Cats can bask in the accomplishments that they have already achieved. When asked how the team was going to celebrate its victory over Ohio State, Holthus’ response was quick and jovial.

“Have a dance party in the locker room,” she said.

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