Volleyball: Wildcats hope to recover in rematch against Boilermakers


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Kayla Morin delivers a spike in the Wildcats’ first game against the Boilermakers. The sophomore outside hitter has started every match and is second on the team in kills.

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Northwestern will look to right its losing ways, having lost nine of its last 11 games, in the team’s penultimate road match of the season on Saturday.

The Wildcats (15-11, Big Ten 5-10) will be going on the road for the third consecutive game, this time in West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on No. 16 Purdue (20-7, 10-5).  This will be the third time in four games that NU plays a top-25 opponent.

The Cats took Purdue to five sets in the matchup on Oct. 24 at home, but were unable to get the win. In that game, NU jumped out to a 2-0 lead before surrendering the final three sets, 25-23, 28-26 and 15-11.

In the first contest, freshman Taylor Tashima tallied 28 assists to go along with 20 digs and nine kills. Since then, Tashima has recorded a Big Ten-leading two triple doubles, including one in the Cats’ last game, a 3-1 loss at Minnesota. Sophomore Kayla Morin leads the team with 22 kills in the previous game with Purdue, but she and Tashima are both focused on defense going into Saturday’s game.

“I think the one thing we can improve on the most is blocking,” Morin said. “Making sure we know where to line up and just really focusing on our techniques.”

Tashima added that Purdue, similar to Minnesota, is an offensive team, which is why blocking will be so important in the game.

“We need to execute some things blocking-wise,” coach Keylor Chan said.  “We blocked pretty poorly (Wednesday). Even though we generated some good blocks, we didn’t really control hitters like we needed to. In the Big Ten, you have to control them more, or you’re going to get the tough end of it.”

The team had 14 blocks in the first game versus Purdue, but just eight against Minnesota. That contributed to them being in a hole they were unable to get out of. Between the most recent performance at the net, and the Cats 1-7 record on the road in the Big Ten, they understand that mental toughness will be key in trying to earn the win Saturday.

“I think the second thing we can focus on the most is embracing the challenge when we’re down,” Morin said. “Just fighting our way out when we get in deficits.”

NU is currently tied for 11th in the Big Ten with Iowa, and they are just one game behind Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Michigan State for the seventh spot. In this tightly contested conference, the team expects nothing less than a tense, hard-hitting contest.

“At home, it was a close match,” Tashima said. “It went to five and it came down to the last few points.  It’s going to be a really aggressive match.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @KhadriceRollins