The Daily Northwestern

Volleyball: Northwestern loses heartbreaker to Maryland, struggles in loss to Ohio State

Gabrielle Hazen goes up for a kill. The senior middle blocker and the Wildcats lost two matches over the weekend.

Gabrielle Hazen goes up for a kill. The senior middle blocker and the Wildcats lost two matches over the weekend.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Gabrielle Hazen goes up for a kill. The senior middle blocker and the Wildcats lost two matches over the weekend.

Peter Warren, Reporter

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CHICAGO — It was a tale of two Northwesterns this weekend.

Friday, the Wildcats (12-8, 2-6 Big Ten) played well against Maryland (14-6, 3-5) but fell in a heartbreaking five-set loss 34-36, 25-23, 24-26, 25-22, 17-15.

Saturday, NU — which played both games at McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago — was thoroughly outplayed and outclassed as Ohio State (11-8, 4-4) won in a sweep 25-13, 25-18, 25-15.

“I was happy on the way we fought in (Friday’s match) but totally disappointed in (Saturday’s) match against Ohio State,” coach Shane Davis said.

In Friday’s contest, the Cats and Terrapins went back and forth all night and neither team won a set by more than three points.

“That was the closest five-set match I have ever played,” said senior setter Taylor Tashima, who had a career-high 62 assists.

The evenness between the two teams was apparent from the start. In the marathon first set won by NU, there were 13 match point situations and neither team could string together a run of more than four points.

The match came down to the wire in the winner-take-all fifth set. After a kill by senior outside hitter Symone Abbott tied the score at 15-15, Maryland rattled off two consecutive points to secure the victory.

“When we lost we were just all like, ‘Did we really just lose that set?,’” freshman middle hitter Alana Walker said. “It was just the fact we had so much confidence, so much energy and we were going back and forth and we really thought we would come out strong.”

Abbott and freshman outside hitter Nia Robinson were both on fire against Maryland. Abbott tied a career-high with 29 kills and Robinson’s 25 kills were the most in her career.

The following day, NU looked like a completely different team. The Cats could not sustain a rhythm against the Buckeyes on offense and had trouble communicating.

Abbott and Robinson had only seven kills with 16 errors in 45 attack attempts. In the third set, Davis benched Abbott, who is currently in fifth place in program history for career kills.

“It was clear early on she was not ready to go and so instead of letting that ride through like we normally have, it was time to make a change and put her on the bench,” Davis said.

Sophomore outside hitter Allie Lindroth replaced Abbott in the lineup and had two kills in the third set.

Going forward, Davis said he’d like to see the team improve its culture. He also said to expect some changes in personnel.

Walker, who had eight kills, one solo block and two block assists Saturday, said if the Cats came out with more energy, the result may have been different.

“If you have energy and you are talking and you are loud and you are having fun it changes the game completely,” Walker said. “I just wish we would bring that every game, because I think if we would have brought that this entire game I think it would have been a different result.”

Though Davis was unsure if Friday’s emotional loss affected NU the next day, he said it did not matter.

“If they want to play in the Big Ten, if they want to play for Northwestern, then they have to be ready to go,” Davis said. “They have to be able to manage those emotions and be prepared to play. They need to expect a little bit more out of one another and themselves.”