Volleyball: Northwestern aims for first winning season since 2014


Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Temi Thomas-Ailara celebrates a point. A First Team All-Big Ten selection last year, she figures to make a big impact for the Wildcats this season.

Carlos Stinson-Maas, Reporter

Unsurprisingly, 2020 was an unconventional year for Northwestern Volleyball. The Wildcats had 12 matches postponed and ended up going 4-6 in the ten matches they played. 

NU faces some significant losses this season, as several key contributors graduated in 2021. Nia Robinson, Alana Walker, and Danyelle Williams all logged big minutes for the Cats, with Walker starting all ten matches last season. Walker started in all 106 of NU’s matches during her time with the team, and she and Robinson both finished in the top four on the team in points in all four seasons they played. 

Despite these losses, the Cats do have some team leaders returning. Junior outside hitters Temi Thomas-Ailara and Abryanna Cannon both played in every set last season, finishing first and second on the team respectively in points, kills, and total attacks. Thomas-Ailara earned First Team All-Big Ten honors last season. Both of the team’s setters are also returning: senior Kiara McNulty and sophomore Alexa Rousseau. 

NU added four players this offseason, including transfer middle blocker Leilani Dodson, who was named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team last season at BYU. She will sit out this season, but the other newcomers figure to factor in immediately — libero Bella LeSage, outside hitter Ariel Amaya, and libero Ellee Stinson, who was a Second Team All-American her senior year of high school.

With a crop of new talent and returning standouts, the Cats will look to make a leap next season — it’s been seven years since NU finished with a winning record, and coach Shane Davis hopes to build a winning team in the toughest conference in the country.

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