Volleyball: NU falls to Nebraska, loses in five sets to Iowa

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Volleyball: NU falls to Nebraska, loses in five sets to Iowa

Danyelle Williams strikes a volleyball. The sophomore outside hitter had seven kills in 11 attempts against Iowa.

Danyelle Williams strikes a volleyball. The sophomore outside hitter had seven kills in 11 attempts against Iowa.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Danyelle Williams strikes a volleyball. The sophomore outside hitter had seven kills in 11 attempts against Iowa.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Danyelle Williams strikes a volleyball. The sophomore outside hitter had seven kills in 11 attempts against Iowa.

Peter Warren, Sports Editor

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Volleyball


Up against the defending national champions Nebraska, Northwestern was struggling to gain any momentum. But the Wildcats were staying close, and when freshman outside hitter Abryanna Cannon delivered an ace in the second set to bring the score to 15-12, the Cornhuskers’ coach John Cook called a timeout.

After the quick reset, Cannon — playing in her first game back from an injury — committed a service error to give the ball back to the Cornhuskers. The Wildcats never served again in the set.

Nebraska’s outside hitter Mikaela Foecke served nine straight times for nine points. Foecke — a two-time NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player — served three aces and rammed two kills as Nebraska (13-1, 4-0) took the second set, 25-12, and the match, 3-0.

“I was very disappointed in the way we opened up this match and especially in set two,” coach Shane Davis said. “We got four kills in set two. We were very disappointed.”

NU’s woes continued into Sunday. Despite taking a 1-0 lead over Iowa, the Cats (10-6, 0-4) were unable to take advantages of opportunities through the set as they fell to the Hawkeyes (10-5, 2-2) in five sets.

In the first set Friday, NU twice cut Nebraska’s lead to within one point. First a kill by junior middle blocker Olivia Viscuso cut the advantage to 7-6 and then an attack error by the Cornhuskers’ Jazz Sweet made the score 14-13. Both times, Nebraska went on runs of three points or more to re-extend their lead as they went on to win 25-19.

After struggling in the first two sets, the Cats came out with better energy in the third. They took an early lead and managed to be up 23-20 late in the set. However, Nebraska went on a five-point run to end the set and secure the match. Middle blocker Lauren Stivrins finished a perfect 10-for-10 on attacks for Nebraska.

NU’s start Sunday was completely different than its beginning Friday. Against Iowa, the Cats jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they took the first set, 25-22. Sophomore outside hitter Nia Robinson returned from injury in the first set and immediately made her impact felt. The Indiana native smashed nine kills in 15 attempts.

“It felt really good to be back on the court with my team and my sisters,” Robinson said. “It was great to feel the energy on the court because its different from the bench.”

NU had a chance to double its advantage in the second set, but failed to capitalize. The Cats had three set-point opportunities but failed to deliver the fatal blow. When the Hawkeyes earned their set point chance up 27-26, they managed to cash in and win the set.

During the up-and-down match, the third set was the low point of the day for NU. After averaging over 20 digs and five blocks in the first two sets, the Cats accumulated only seven digs and zero blocks in the frame. The Hawkeyes finished the set on a 14-4 run that seemed to take the energy out of NU.

“I thought we were a lot tougher today than we were on Friday,” Davis said. “Came to play a little bit more than we did on Friday. We were just a little bit up-and-down throughout the entire match.”

But the Cats were not done yet. After coming off the bench in the third set, sophomore opposite hitter Danyelle Williams sparked NU as it secured a 25-23 victory to send the match to a winner-take-all fifth set.

Iowa took an early lead in the fifth set, but Williams delivered a kill to bring the deficit to one. However, the Hawkeyes challenged the call and it was ruled that the ball never tipped the Iowa blocker’s fingertips. The decision proved fatal as the Cats were never able to take the lead and fell 15-12.

“I was happy with the intensity. I thought we were all there, we all wanted it badly. We fought hard,” Viscuso said. “It’s hard to be super bummed when you fought that hard.”

Email: peterwarren2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @thepeterwarren

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