Volleyball: Northwestern falls at Indiana in first Big Ten match

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Volleyball: Northwestern falls at Indiana in first Big Ten match

Senior outside hitter Sofia Lavin gets blocked at the net. Northwestern hit well in its game against Indiana but struggled with serving in the four-set defeat.

Senior outside hitter Sofia Lavin gets blocked at the net. Northwestern hit well in its game against Indiana but struggled with serving in the four-set defeat.

Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Senior outside hitter Sofia Lavin gets blocked at the net. Northwestern hit well in its game against Indiana but struggled with serving in the four-set defeat.

Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Senior outside hitter Sofia Lavin gets blocked at the net. Northwestern hit well in its game against Indiana but struggled with serving in the four-set defeat.

Aidan Markey, Reporter

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It was a rocky start to the Big Ten season for Northwestern on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (7-6, 0-1 Big Ten) struggled mightily in their first conference match of the season as they fell on the road to Indiana (12-2, 1-0) in four sets.

NU, unable to handle Indiana’s aggressive attack for the majority of the match, missed 14 serves while also totaling 11 receiving errors.

“You’re just not going to win a lot of matches against anybody with that kind of serve and pass game,” coach Shane Davis said. “We just couldn’t gain any momentum with our missed serves.”

After dropping the first two sets, the Cats clawed back to take the third set 27-25, fighting off a match point in the process.

The improved overall play in the third set was the high point of the match for NU.

“We were able to do a really nice job with our serve and pass game at that point,” Davis said. “When we do that, we can play with anyone.”

While the team’s defensive and passing games were not up to par, the offensive side of the net was much more indicative of the Cats’ play throughout the season.

NU tallied 44 kills in the match. Junior outside hitter Symone Abbott once again led the team’s attack with 15 kills of her own.

“Our offense was really good tonight,” Abbott said, but added that the team’s “lacking” serve and pass game hindered the offense from being even stronger.

While this was not how the team envisioned the outcome of its first Big Ten match, a quick turnaround forces it to move on and continue to prepare for the challenging conference schedule.

NU will return to Evanston on Sunday for its first home contest of the season. The Cats will take on a perennial volleyball power in No. 18 Penn State (9-3, 1-0 Big Ten) while going for their first conference win.

The seven-time national champion provides a difficult task for NU. However, the team is eager for a chance to take down the Nittany Lions at Welsh-Ryan Arena for the second consecutive season.

The Nittany Lions have 11 players that measure six feet or taller, and the team ranks second in the Big Ten in hitting percentage.

Junior setter Taylor Tashima knows the significance of such a game for the Cats and what the team needs to do in order to grab a win against the storied Penn State program.

“Penn State’s a great team, just like Indiana.” Tashima said. “We’re going to have to be really good up at the net.”

Davis, knowing the potential meaning in a win over Penn State, is adamant that NU must execute its game plan in order to conquer volleyball’s Goliath.

“We have to be able to side out,” Davis said. “We have to be able to pass the ball so we can put our hitters in good situations.”

The home opener holds valuable opportunities for the Cats. The players know this, and Tashima sees the team is ready for the moment.

“We’re really excited to play on our home court,” Tashima said. “Anything can happen in the Big Ten.”

Email: aidanmarkey2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AidanMarkey

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