Volleyball: The Cats hope to improve with a conference-only schedule


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Sophomore outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara performs a hit against Nebraska. She finished second in the Big Ten in kills per set last season.

Carlos Stinson-Maas, Reporter


The 2019 season was one of the most disappointing seasons for Northwestern in recent history. The Wildcats had a 9-3 record entering conference play, but they dropped their first 10 Big Ten matchups en route to a 14-18 record. NU improved over the course of the season, capping off 2019 with a win over rival No. 17 Illinois, but the Cats struggled overall against a stacked Big Ten field.

The upcoming season, assuming there is one, looks more promising for NU. Most key contributors from last season will be back again this year, led by sophomore outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara, who made the conference All-Freshman team and earned second team All-Big Ten honors last season.

The Cats also look to get production from some newcomers. Freshman setter Alexa Rousseau, a third team All-American and Michigan Miss Volleyball finalist, will look to fill in for Payton Chang, NU’s leading setter in 2019. The Cats also added junior libero Megan Miller, a transfer from Nebraska who recorded 246 digs last season, playing in all 119 sets for the Cornhuskers.

With the Big Ten’s announcement that all fall sports will be limited to conference-only schedules for the upcoming season, NU will need to improve quite a bit to finish with a winning record; the Cats have yet to achieve a winning conference record this century. But NU ended last season on a high note, and with a strong returning squad and promising additions, the Cats will look to take a step forward this season.

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