Volleyball: Looking to rebound, Wildcats turn to freshman stud Abbott

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Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Outside hitter Symone Abbott has been key for the Wildcats this season. The freshman was especially strong the last time Northwestern played Minnesota, tallying 21 kills, a personal best.

Max Gelman, Reporter


Volleyball


Symone Abbott and the rest of the Northwestern team are amped up about their next game.

After falling to Illinois last Saturday, the Wildcats turn their attention to Minnesota, a team against which freshman hitter Abbott had early success. Abbott tallied a personal best with 21 kills the last time NU faced the Golden Gophers last month, and she is looking forward to facing them once more on Wednesday.

“I am really excited to play them again,” Abbott said. “I feel like the first time we played them, we came out and just played really well … I don’t know if it was because we played Minnesota or if it was just how we were playing that day, but I think we’re going to do really well against them tomorrow.”

Junior libero Caroline Niedospial stressed the importance of Wednesday’s matchup.

“We’re really close to (Minnesota) in the Big Ten standings, so definitely a huge match for both of us,” she said. “Hopefully we can get the win.”

Coach Keylor Chan, in his usual resigned demeanor, played down the impact a Cats win would have on the season’s outcome and instead focused on the match at hand.

“Every game’s a big game in the Big Ten,” Chan said. “We know what the last part of the year is, you know, and it’s obviously important. We’re just going to have to play our best.”

After the Fighting Illini defeated NU in four sets, the team’s main focus is to get back into the win column. But as freshman setter Taylor Tashima put it, you can never be sure what’s going to happen.

“The Big Ten is really crazy right now,” Tashima said after Saturday’s loss. “Everyone is beating everyone. It doesn’t matter that we beat (Minnesota) before. It’s a new game. They’ve been doing really well the past couple weeks. It’s just like our game against Illinois. It means just as much.”

Abbott’s performance in the straight-set victory in October garnered her a second Big Ten Freshman of the Week award. This time around, Abbott has her sights set on something bigger: the NCAA tournament.

“This is a huge game for us,” Abbott continued. “Minnesota’s sort of in the same boat that we are, struggling in the Big Ten, and we both need to win a fair amount of games to get to the tournament. And we’re both kind of on the edge. If we beat them twice handily and we beat them on their court, it’ll be more of a reason to pick us for the tournament.”

“The most important thing is that we play as a team, and we play the best volleyball that we can,” Chan said when asked about the upcoming tournament. “The end result will happen, but we have to focus on what we can control, which is the process and doing the very best that we possibly can.”

Fun fact about Wednesday’s matchup: If NU defeats Minnesota, they will match their final win totals from the past three seasons at 16. The Cats have also missed out on the NCAA tournament each of those seasons and are hoping to buck the trend starting Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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