Volleyball: Northwestern drops matches against No. 6 Ohio State, No. 4 Nebraska


Paloma Leone-Getten/The Daily Northwestern

Senior outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara leaps to hit the ball.

Kate Walter, Assistant Sports Editor


Northwestern (17-9, 6-8 Big Ten) faced a tough weekend of conference play at home, dropping matches to No. 6 Ohio State (16-5, 12-1 Big Ten) and No. 4 Nebraska (21-2, 13-1 Big Ten). Both matches had a lively Family Weekend crowd, with the Nebraska match setting a new volleyball attendance record of 4,019 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena. 

Similar to the football team this weekend, NU couldn’t seal the deal against a top-ranked Buckeyes squad, dropping its first three sets in the Friday match. The Cats kept things close in the first set, with the Buckeyes finishing only three points ahead. Seven kills by senior Temi Thomas-Ailara wasn’t enough to fend off the Buckeyes.

NU couldn’t get into the flow during the second set either, falling behind the Buckeyes and putting up 12 points to Ohio State’s 25. The Cats tried to get back into the game during the third set, but the Buckeyes grabbed the lead after six points and took the set, and the match, with a final score of 25-18.

A group of volleyball players in white jerseys huddle together.
The Wildcats huddle between points. (Khadija Ahmed/The Daily Northwestern)

The Cats battled No. 4 Nebraska through five sets Sunday, gaining a 2-1 set lead before falling to the Cornhuskers in the fifth set. Compared to last month’s three-set sweep by Nebraska, NU held its own against the Cornhuskers in front of a home crowd. 

Thomas-Ailara lit up the first set with 11 kills and a .833 hitting percentage, clinching the first set for the Cats with a decisive kill. The Cornhuskers took the next set, notching 13 kills to NU’s 10. NU bounced back to win a competitive third set, with Thomas-Ailara’s set point kill giving the Cats a 2-1 set lead against the Cornhuskers.

People in white jerseys and black t-shirts cheer and wave their arms.
The bench celebrates after Northwestern wins the first set against Nebraska. (Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer)

 The fourth set was a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, but Nebraska closed it out, forcing the Cats to a fifth set to determine the match. NU ran out of steam in the fifth set, falling to the Cornhuskers 15-6. Thomas-Ailara ended the match with a season-high 26 kills. 

Coming up, the Cats will hit the road for games against Michigan and Michigan State. They’ll also face the Spartans for the first time this season and have a chance to avenge their October loss to the Wolverines.

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Twitter: @katewalter03

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