Volleyball: Northwestern unable to sweep Spartans on the year

Sophie Mann, Photo Editor


Volleyball


A career night from Symone Abbott couldn’t lift Northwestern to victory in East Lansing.

The Spartans (15-13, 7-10 Big Ten) fought against the Wildcats (13-15, 5-12) in East Lansing on Wednesday night after NU topped them 3-1 in a Halloween battle in Evanston.

The Cats seemed to be in control throughout the first three sets, winning the second but narrowly losing the first and third. However, the Spartans were determined to redeem their performance from October and topped NU 25-9 in the final frame.

Being unable to get into double digits in the fourth set does not bode well for the Cats. As usual the night was riddled with errors as NU accrued 26, while Michigan State only had 18.

This loss pushes the Cats to No. 39 in the NCAA RPI rankings, in essence ending any hopes of a playoff berth.

Playoff hopes aside, a five-game losing streak is frustrating for the coaches and players alike. Coach Keylor Chan attested to this, speaking to how the team’s lack of conversion haunts them on the road.

“The difference came down to execution and making plays; when you’re on the road, you have to convert them,” Chan said. “It came back to bite us in the butt.”

Abbott, a sophomore outside hitter, said Michigan State was getting to the ball right away, something the Cats were unable to defend.

She also spoke about the stark contrast between the first three sets and the last one, in which the Cats all but stopped playing.

“The first three sets we fought really hard,” Abbott said. “The fourth set … I honestly don’t really know what happened. Our offense couldn’t do anything to put those balls down.”

Even though NU was not converting plays to points, it scored big tonight. Abbott racked up 25 kills for the Cats, while junior outside hitter Chloe Reinig scored only 18, the most for the Spartans.

Chan said Abbott has been making developmental leaps as a player and has been working harder in the gym. Abbott said that she figured out that swinging high works best and coming out of her comfort zone allowed her to become a better player overall.

“It just kind of came together (tonight),” Abbott said. “If you swing high, something’s bound to happen.”

Sophomore middle blocker Gabrielle Hazen, who had the second highest hitting percentage for NU, was also pleased with the first three sets, but said the Spartans pulled away from the Cats in the last set.

Despite their five losses, Chan and Hazen both think the team has been improving. Chan said the team has been playing some of their best volleyball in these past five games.

Although these developments are important and do not go unnoticed, a lack of wins means that improvements fall to the wayside as people focus on the team’s losses. Hazen said the team is trying to rally together to make wins on the road more likely.

“We want to beat these teams on their home court; we are all striving to reach for the same goal,” Hazen said. “Everybody talks about just being one point better, so it helps better the team.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Symone Abbott’s position. She is an outside hitter. The Daily regrets the error.

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Twitter: @sophiemmann

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