Volleyball: Wildcats split home meetings over the weekend


Daily file photo by Zack Laurence

The Wildcats prepare to break away from the huddle. NU started the weekend off a bit shaky, but was able to bounce back to salvage a split of its home matches.

Sophie Mann, Photo Editor


The magic of home-court advantage didn’t kick in until Saturday night for Northwestern, but once it started, it couldn’t be stopped.

No. 25 Michigan (16-7, 6-6 Big Ten) did not let up on the Wildcats (13-10, 5-7), as they were massacred by the Wolverines on Friday night, losing in straight sets. NU scored only 13 points in the second set after falling by only two points in the first set.

Even though it was a dull night for the Cats as a whole, they found a shining star in freshman outside hitter Ashley Bush who made her collegiate debut on Friday night. Coach Keylor Chan said he originally planned to redshirt her this year but decided to take her off of the bench. Bush tallied nine kills for the Cats on Friday.

Bush said getting on the collegiate court for the first time was an easy adjustment because of how helpful and welcoming her teammates were throughout the evening.

“The first set was awesome,” Bush said. “I think the whole match was good. I think we need to work on keeping the momentum high.”

NU was able to turn it around in a big way against Michigan State on Saturday night. After a lackluster first set, the Cats stepped it up, winning the next three to take down the Spartans.

One of the top contributors of the night was sophomore middle blocker Gabrielle Hazen who set a career high with eight blocks. Despite her outstanding performance, Hazen attributed the team’s successes to teamwork, not just one player’s strengths.

“This week we were just really focusing on playing as a team,” Hazen said. “We talked about doing little things for each other, so just going that extra mile.”

This coming week the Cats have the rare opportunity to play the same team twice as they take on No. 21 Illinois (15-8, 6-6), both in Evanston and in Urbana-Champaign. This week provides time for the Cats to build upon this weekend’s momentum as they focus solely on one team.

Chan stressed the importance of the emotional aspect of the game and said if the team connects in all ways, it will play better volleyball.

“To play sport is not just a physical thing,” Chan said. “There’s a mental and emotional connection you have to have with a team. It’s nothing other than them playing for each other.”

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