Volleyball: Northwestern finishes road trip at Iowa, No. 10 Nebraska

David Lee, Reporter

Northwestern will try to rebound from Sunday’s loss against Minnesota as the team hits the road to face Iowa (10-12, 1-9 Big Ten) and No. 10 Nebraska (16-4, 9-2) on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday.

The Wildcats go into Iowa City as heavy favorites against the Hawkeyes. Iowa has sputtered to a measly 1-9 record within the conference, with its sole win a 5-set victory over Illinois. The Cornhuskers look to be, by far, the tougher challenge this weekend. It would be difficult to tell, however, by talking to the Cats. They are locked-in and focused on Iowa.

Redshirt sophomore Caroline Niedospial voiced the general sentiment of the team.

“I definitely think that we have to take it one match at a time. Right now it’s all about Iowa,” Niedospial said. “We’re not even thinking about Nebraska right now. We need to get that win first, and then, after we get the win against Iowa, we can focus on Nebraska.”

NU also beat Iowa in straight sets when the Hawkeyes came to Evanston on September 28. Freshman outside hitter Kayla Morin had one of the best games of her career, nabbing 16 kills with a .316 hitting percentage in the rout.

Nebraska gave NU a much bigger challenge last time they played. The Cats lost to the Cornhuskers on September 27 in four sets (25-16, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20). Nebraska outside hitter Kelsey Robinson, an Illinois native, led all attackers with 25 kills while hitting an outrageous .438.

Robinson also led her team with 12 digs.

Coach Keylor Chan said he believes the NU team headed to Nebraska is not the same one that lost in September.

“I think we’ve gotten a lot better,” Chan said. “We’ve really worked on some things and gained some cohesiveness and some chemistry and really gotten a grip on the kind of volleyball that we want to play.”

The key to an upset victory likely lies with the Cats’ ability to start off strong, something they’ve been struggling to do as of late. NU lost the first two sets to Illinois before rallying for a victory and then was unable to overcome the 2-0 deficit against Minnesota on Sunday. Freshman setter Caleigh Ryan said she knows that the team can do better.

“For a couple practices we’ve been diving right into 6-on-6 action, so that’s really going to help us start off strong for the first couple games,” Ryan said. “Also I think as a team we were all kind of slow, so we really focused on coming out strong and playing hard on the first point.”

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