Volleyball: Northwestern finds early season success again

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Daily file photo by Sean Su

Junior Kayla Morin jumps high to get the ball past a wall of defenders. The Wildcats offense has been clicking as they jumped out to an 8-3 record to start the season.

Max Gelman, Assistant Sports Editor


Volleyball


While Northwestern students were away, the volleyball team came to play.

In what has become a hallmark of coach Keylor Chan’s career, the Wildcats continue to win early games. NU (8-3), has won eight of its first 11 matches for the third time in the past four seasons.

Sophomore setter Taylor Tashima has continued to put up excellent numbers. After a season where she ranked 10th in the Big Ten with 8.38 assists per set, Tashima has averaged 11.3 so far in 2015, placing third in the conference.

Additionally, Tashima sits second in the Big Ten with 418 total assists and won the Wildcat Challenge MVP award after the Cats’ victory over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Senior libero Caroline “Carks” Niedospial has also returned strong, moving from sixth to third all-time in digs, thanks to a 63-dig performance against Western Kentucky on Sept. 11. Niedospial is second in the Big Ten in digs per set at 5.11, after finishing 2014 with 4.72 when she also ranked second.

Following a season during which she played only six sets, sophomore hitter Gabrielle Hazen has participated in every set except one this season. Hazen has set career highs in kills in each of her last three games, notching eight, nine and 13, respectively.

NU began its season on a hot streak, winning each of its first three matches against Wake Forest, New Hampshire and Loyola-Chicago three sets to none, before dropping their first game of the season against Idaho State 3-0 at the Boise State Tournament. The Cats rebounded the next day, defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-1.

Sophomore hitter Symone Abbott, who led NU in kills per set in 2014, set a new career high with 24 kills during the match against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Abbott also saw 51 attempts, one short of her career high from her freshman season.

The Cats completed the Boise State Tournament with a 3-0 loss to the host Broncos and began play at the Holiday Inn University Plaza Invitational with a shutout of Furman. NU then dropped a match 3-0 against Western Kentucky but rebounded the next day with a close 3-2 win over Missouri State.

The Cats finished their nonconference play with two home games against Lipscomb and Milwaukee. NU won both — the former 3-1 and the latter 3-0.

Friday marks the beginning of a four-game road trip for the Cats, with the first matchup against Rutgers at 6 p.m.

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Twitter: @MaxGelman

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