Volleyball: Northwestern splits weekend matchups against Rutgers and Ohio State


Ashley Lee/The Daily Northwestern

Alexa Rousseau sets. The Michigan native had a match-high 45 assists against No. 6 Ohio State on Sunday.

Charlotte Varnes, Sports Editor

Dynamic and dominant, Northwestern took care of Rutgers in a true team effort on Friday. 

Senior outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara surprised the Scarlet Knights (7-11, 1-5 Big Ten) time after time, recording a match-high 16 kills. Sophomore defensive specialist Ellee Stinson stymied any opposing offensive momentum en route to a career high 22 digs. Junior middle blocker Leilani Dodson bolstered the front row, posting five blocks. 

Ultimately, it was the Wildcats’ (13-5, 2-4) lone win of the weekend. NU dispatched Rutgers with ease in front of a home crowd on Friday, then fell 3-1 against No. 6 Ohio State in Columbus on Sunday. Just two weeks into Big Ten play, the Cats now sit at 2-4 in conference – good for a ninth-place tie. 

NU wasted no time getting to work against the Scarlet Knights. The Cats tallied the first five points of the first set and never once relinquished the lead. A powerful effort from all of NU’s starters proved key to its 25-12 first set victory. The set featured six different players notching kills, while Thomas-Ailara and Dodson led the way with blocks. 

Rutgers initially came out firing in the second set, managing to even the score at 3-3 early on.  But the Cats grew more powerful throughout the set, outscoring the Scarlet Knights 9-3 during a stretch in the middle of the set. NU had little trouble hanging on for a 25-19 win in the second.

The third set was the most competitive, as Rutgers remained within a few points of the Cats toward the end of the matchup. NU managed to hold on, taking down the Scarlet Knights 25-22 en route to a three-set sweep. 


The momentum initially seemed to carry into Sunday against the Buckeyes (9-5, 5-1). The Cats notched the first point and raced out to a 12-7 lead early on. Ohio State battled back but never took the lead as NU took the first set 25-21. Fifth-year outside hitter Hanna Lesiak was a force for the Cats during the set, tallying five kills, while junior setter Alexa Rousseau chipped in 10 assists.

Despite the dominant first set, the next two sets were anyone’s game. Back and forth throughout, NU fell just short and lost both the second and third set 25-23. By the fourth set, the magic was gone. The Buckeyes dominated from start to finish, overtaking the Cats 25-15.

A busy weekend finished, NU now looks to return to its winning ways against Maryland in Evanston on Friday.

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Twitter: @charvarnes11

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