Volleyball: Wildcats hope history won’t repeat itself in Big Ten play

Sophie Mann, Photo Editor

The Wildcats are hoping history won’t repeat itself.

After enduring a six-game losing streak amid a rocky 2014 Big Ten campaign, Northwestern (8-3) readies to kick off conference play against Rutgers (3-9) on Friday and Maryland (10-4) on Saturday with an updated strategy to take on these crucial opponents.  

“We’ve spent a lot of time researching, reading and educating ourselves on how to manage training cycles,” coach Keylor Chan said. “There’s been a huge environmental shift in how we manage our athletes.”

Part of this shift revolves around re-tooled workouts and an emphasis on team dynamics. Chan has been working to develop the athletes both individually and as a team. He said this training, which began in January, has already brought “some success.”

“We’ve really enjoyed how they’ve developed as volleyball players and as people,” Chan said. “And that’s really been a joy to watch.”

One player who has emerged in this new system is sophomore middle blocker Gabrielle Hazen. In her freshman year, Hazen played just six sets, but this year, she has been a centerpiece for the Cats, starting all 11 games.

Hazen’s team-leading 42 blocks have helped propel NU to two home victories, and Chan said her height and skill have poised the young player for a bright future.

“[Gabrielle] is an athlete that can be physically imposing, really dynamic off of one foot,” Chan said. “You know, she’s a young player that has a lot of room for improvement, but we’re excited with the direction she’s moving and where she’s going to take her game.”

Max Gelman contributed reporting  

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @sophiemmann