Volleyball: Another top-5 team set to visit Evanston

Northwestern+huddles+up+after+a+point.+The+team+is+still+looking+for+its+first+Big+Ten+victory+of+the+season.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Volleyball: Another top-5 team set to visit Evanston

Northwestern huddles up after a point. The team is still looking for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Northwestern huddles up after a point. The team is still looking for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Northwestern huddles up after a point. The team is still looking for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Northwestern huddles up after a point. The team is still looking for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Peter Warren, Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story







Volleyball


Four games into its Big Ten slate, Northwestern has already played two top-15 teams — including the defending national champions — and has yet to come away with a win.

And with the bulk of conference play still to be played, the inexperienced Wildcats are only at the beginning of the gauntlet that is the best volleyball conference in the country.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” coach Shane Davis said after the team’s loss Sunday against Iowa.

With its first midweek matchup of the season, NU (10-6, 0-4) will faceoff with No. 5 Minnesota at Beardsley Gym. The Gophers (10-2, 4-0) come into Evanston riding a five-game win streak and two consecutive midweek, three-set sweeps over top-10 teams — No. 9 Penn State and No. 6 Wisconsin.

Like many teams in the Big Ten this year, Minnesota is a young team. Twelve of the team’s 18 players are underclassmen and only two of the seven players who have competed in 35 sets or more are upperclassmen. However, much like Nebraska last weekend, the Gophers have a senior star as the face of the team.

Senior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson is a three-time All-American with almost 5,000 career assists and over 1,000 career digs to her name. A starter on Minnesota’s 2015 and 2016 teams that made the Final Four, Seliger-Swenson has won the Big Ten’s Setter of the Week award for the last two weeks.

While the Cats have not been able to win any matches against ranked opponents so far this year, they have not gone down without a fight. Playing No. 14 Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana, NU was able to win the first set. Against No. 3 Nebraska, the Cats had a 23-20 lead in the third set.

“We tend to make teams look better than they are at times,” junior middle blocker Olivia Viscuso said. “We just need to play our level and not change how we do things based on who we are playing.”

A recurring theme for the Cats this past weekend was consistency, with Sunday’s loss being a prime example. Sets one and four, both wins for NU, featured the Cats’ highest attack percentages, while set three — a 25-11 defeat — saw NU hit only .033 and Iowa go 14-for-24 on attempts.

Another aspect of the varying play has been injuries. Throughout the season, the Cats have had various players miss games with them. Only this past weekend did the team return two of its opening day starters — freshman outside hitter Abryanna Cannon and sophomore outside hitter Nia Robinson.

“Right now we are a young team with a lot of people rotating in and out,” Robinson said. “With people switching in and out, it’s going to be a little up and down. If we can nail it in practice, than the next time on the court, we will be able to nail it.”

Even with the peaks and valleys of the season, there has been a lot for NU to rally around. Despite missing time, Robinson is second in the conference in kills per set at 4.23, only 0.02 behind the Big Ten-leader, Purdue’s Sherridan Atkinson. Davis said the team’s freshman have been doing a good job fightning.

Viscuso said the Cats have had “moments of greatness” but need to find consistency to reach their potential.

“I’m excited to see what this team can do,” Viscuso said. “We have so much potential. And we need to find it. I think that we have a lot left to accomplish. We just really need to go after it these next couple of weeks.”

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

Comments