Volleyball: Northwestern’s skid continues in loss to No. 16 Purdue

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

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The woes continued for the Wildcats (15-12, 5-11 Big Ten) on the road as they fell to No. 16 Purdue (21-7, 11-5) in straight sets in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Northwestern came into the game with a 1-7 record in Big Ten road games and was unable to buck the trend. The Cats have now lost 10 of their last 12 games after starting the season 13-2.

“As an entire team we just didn’t really execute at a high level.” coach Keylor Chan said. “That responsibility falls on me and our staff and all the way down. We all need to be better.”

In the first set, NU was down 22-17 but scored four straight points to tighten the gap, before losing the set 25-21.

The second and third saw Purdue take commanding leads early, 10-4 and 11-3 respectively. The Boilermakers would win both sets 25-17 to claim the 3-0 victory.

The Cats never led during the game and totaled only four blocks and 31 digs in the contest. In the previous matchup with Purdue, a loss in five sets, NU had 14 blocks accompanied by 86 digs.

“We weren’t mentally strong and our fundamentals weren’t really there,” senior Katie Dutchman said. “When you don’t have confidence in fundamentals, it’s a lot harder to have confidence in general.”

Chan said he sees this game as a teaching tool for the team going into its final four games. With the Cats still hoping to make the NCAA tournament, and their next three games at home, Chan plans on using the preparation time to address the poor execution that he says stuck out to him.

“When you know what you have to do, you need to get it done,” he said. “I think that’s what we have to learn as a group. We have to play when it matters most. We need to learn to rise to that challenge.”

The challenge of winning on the road is one that plagued the team all season, and the atmosphere of Purdue’s gym did not help the Cats get over their troubles away from home.

“We have to take the energy from the gym,” Dutchman said. “It doesn’t matter where we are, and it doesn’t matter if the energy is for the other team. We have to use it for ourselves and pretend that that noise is for us so we don’t get flustered by it.”

Freshman Taylor Tashima also recognized Purdue’s home court advantage and fan base as an aspect of the game that stood out, but felt that the uneven play of the Cats played a large role.

“Purdue came out very competitive and we didn’t respond to that,” Tashima said. “It was up and down the whole match. We were very close to them at some points, but it was the consistency that Purdue had that put them over the top.”

With everything still right in front of them despite the current skid, the Cats will once again look to pull positives away from this defeat and remember the feelings that accompany losing.

“We know that the effort is always there,” Dutchman said. “We are aware that it has never been a lack of effort. … The part that is going to make us fight even more is that we are tired of the last three matches. We are tired of losing. We are tired of losing the way that we have been losing, which is total effort but a lack of mental strength.”

Email: khadricerollins2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @KhadriceRollins

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