Volleyball: Wildcats look to improve offense against Michigan State

Max Gelman, Reporter


After falling in straight sets to Purdue last Saturday, Northwestern looks to snap a three-game losing streak Wednesday against Michigan State (14-13, 7-8).

The Wildcats struggled mightily on offense over the weekend, hitting to a lowly .135 percentage against the Boilermakers. Coach Keylor Chan spoke about how NU must improve in order to be successful against the Spartans.

“It’s kind of the story of our lives right now,” Chan said of the Cats’ pedestrian offense. “We have to really control that first ball, that serve-reception pass. When we do, we’re (competitive) in matches and winning sets and matches. When you can control that first contact … that’s really been the difference. That’s why we were successful against Illinois.”

“Michigan State is similar to Purdue in that they have a lot of really good blockers,” said sophomore hitter Kayla Morin, who led NU in kills against the Boilermakers last Saturday with 10. “So I think if we kind of focus on scoring in different ways, not just trying to hit it straight to the ground but maybe off-hands, things like that, that will help us be more successful.”

“I know personally that I have the ability to put a ball down in any situation that can come to me,” a confident Symone Abbott said when asked how she can help the team as a hitter. “It doesn’t matter if there’s a bad pass or a bad set. I should be able to put the ball down no matter what. As long as I consistently do that the whole game, then we’ll be fine.”

Morin and freshman Abbott are two of the Cats’ best hitters, and both have been largely successful on the court this season. However, with a NCAA tournament berth looking bleak, the two offensive studs know they can both improve their skills for next season.

“Personally for me, for next season, I think I could get better at a lot of technique things,” Morin said. “We do a lot of personal training in the winter, so I think blocking I can really focus on … and then in the weight room too trying to improve my vertical. A lot of us made a lot of gains in the offseason last year, and I think if we can do that again, that will just help us get more success in-season.”

While Morin wanted to improve more on her technique, Abbott is focusing more on her consistency.

“Next season I want to just make sure I have a consistent hitting percentage,” Abbott said. “Right now it’s fluctuating, and I want to hit a consistent .300 for a whole season, which is going to be pretty hard. But I want to be able to do that and just lower my errors, just make sure there’s no game where I’m nonexistent or not playing well.”

Meanwhile, an optimistic Chan hasn’t given up on the season just yet and remains focused on the final four games in 2014. He hesitated when asked about what the team needs to improve for next season.

“Let’s get there when the season ends,” Chan said. “Right now though, what we need to improve upon is handling the first contact against Michigan State in serving and passing.”

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