Volleyball: Cats fall to Minnesota


Nia Robinson attacks a ball. The sophomore outside hitter had 10 kills against Minnesota.

Manasa Pagadala


After four straight losses to start its Big Ten slate, Northwestern played against No. 5 Minnesota at Beardsley Gym at Evanston Township High School for their first midweek matchup of the season Wednesday.

The Golden Gophers, after claiming victory over two top-10 teams in their previous four games, came in riding a five game win-streak and certainly posed a challenge to the young NU team.

“We are a young team but that shouldn’t be holding us back,” junior middle blocker Olivia Viscuso said. “I’m sure they have a ranking in front of their name but that doesn’t mean anything. Any team can win or lose on any day.”

Minnesota’s (11-2, 5-0 Big Ten) continued to ride its wave as it swept NU (10-7, 0-5), 3-0, giving the Cats their third loss against ranked opponents this season.

Despite their initial momentum with an immediate kill by freshman outside hitter Abryanna Cannon and two service aces in a row by freshman libero Michelle Lee, the team began to lose its consistency when the Gophers took a 16-8 lead.

“We went into a mode where we couldn’t do anything right,” coach Shane Davis said. “It was at a 16-8 deficit that we ended up making errors.”

Although the team lasted until the end of the first set with 12 kills and one serving error, the set ended with a .200 hitting percentage, compared to Minnesota’s .500. Viscuso said that Cannon provided good energy.

“Abryanna had a couple of really good hits,” said Viscuso. “I loved being on the court when she did something good, because she gets really excited.”

As the second set began, the inconsistency started with blocks and attacks, with the Cats’ hitting average dropping to 0.097, even with sophomore outside hitter Nia Robinson delivering a pair of kills and Cannon striking another, NU lost the second set 25-17.

“We go from hitting over 0.300 to 0.400 in really good situations to hitting negative,” Davis said. “We were in system half the time and out of system the other half.”

Heading into their third set, Robinson said the Cats shifted their overall approach to the match.

NU continued to work hard in the final set, fighting for possession of the ball even at match point for Minnesota. The Cats’ attackers kept up their aggression but could not keep up with the Gophers. The set ended 25-15, as Minnesota claimed its sixth straight three-set sweep.

“I think we learned a lot in this game. I think we learned a lot about ourselves again,” Robinson said. “So coming back in, we’ll be able to give them a better match-up, a better scout, and we’ll be able to give them a run for their money next time.”

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