Volleyball: Wildcats look to put road woes behind them


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Freshman outside hitter Symone Abbott and senior middle blocker Katie Dutchmann leap for the ball. The two have appeared in each of the Wildcats’ 19 games this season.

Max Gelman, Reporter


After a brutal four-match losing streak on the road, including two defeats against ranked teams, the Wildcats return home hopeful to salvage the season.

They face No. 13 Purdue on Friday night in Evanston.

Coach Keylor Chan, when asked about how NU can improve following the four-game skid, addressed the Cats’ problems away from Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“We got a little jittery on the road,” Chan said, “and we couldn’t get back in a rhythm and that’s what we have to try to find, is a good rhythm and a tempo and build on that.”

Sophomore outside hitter Kayla Morin also talked about how traveling can affect the way players prepare for the game.

“We really try to work to keep the same mentality, the same focus and energy no matter where we’re playing,” Morin said, “but (traveling) does really affect you. You have to take into account all the traveling and the time away. It’s just a different atmosphere. … You almost have to create more energy when you’re away.”

Senior outside hitter Monica McGreal echoed her teammate.

“I definitely think there’s a difference between playing at home and playing away,” she said. “At home, you know, we’re comfortable here, we practice in the gym every day, it’s more part of our routine. When you’re away (from Welsh-Ryan) you’re traveling, you’re staying in a hotel. It’s a little uncomfortable.”

Although NU will be back within the friendly confines of its home court, snapping its longest losing streak since the end of last season will prove no easy feat against the Boilermakers. Purdue is 7-1 against Big Ten opponents, good for second in the conference, and is 17-3 overall this season.

“They’re a very good team,” Chan said, referring to the Boilermakers. “We know we’re going to have to play well, but I think (playing) at home and coming after what we’ve just been through, I think we realize we’re fallible. We needed to be humbled, and just need to come out and play the best volleyball we can (Friday).”

Although this season is regarded as one of NU’s most successful in recent years, proven by the team’s first top 25 ranking since 2010 and the emergence of freshmen duo setter Taylor Tashima and hitter Symone Abbott, the current losing streak caused Chan and the Cats to refocus their energies on what they emphasize in practice.

“We need to be better in the first-contact phase of the game,” Chan said. “Serving and passing has definitely been an issue, and then attacking decisions. Our attacking efficiency’s really taken a tumble these two weeks. … We’re trying to get back to some basics and relax a little bit.”

Morin also added on to Chan’s points.

“We’ve really been emphasizing communication, focusing on the little details like coverage for example, if one of our teammates gets blocked,” she said

McGreal emphasized that the team has to focus more on itself than its opponents.

“I think we’ve just been getting back to the basics, and focusing a lot on just getting better at things we can control,” she said. “Just improving the skills we have control over.”

NU will look to control the game against Purdue on Friday at 7 p.m. and win its first game since Oct. 5 when the team defeated Minnesota.

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