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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Volleyball: Northwestern defeats Indiana in five

Taylor Hancock/The Daily Northwestern
Northwestern players celebrate. The Wildcats picked up a five-set victory over Indiana Sunday.

Propelled by a well-rounded offense, Northwestern secured a hard-fought victory against Indiana Sunday. 

The Wildcats (11-11, 5-7 Big Ten) defeated the Hoosiers (16-9, 6-6 Big Ten) in five sets in their first and only meeting of the season.

“I think a huge part of today was also a response from last match,” sophomore outside hitter Averie Hernandez said. “I mean, we lost in three to Ohio State and we definitely could compete with that team. I think one of our goals was to kill the ball more and that’s what we did.”

Senior setter Alexa Rousseau led the way for the ‘Cats, tallying a season-high 53 assists along with eight kills. Junior libero Ellee Stinson held things down in the back row with 17 digs.

As the Big Ten’s leader in aces, the Hoosiers served up eight, but NU’s defense was ready.

“I think our passers are some of the best in the conference when they’re confident … they did really well and didn’t let outside factors impact them,” senior middle blocker Leilani Dodson said.

It was a career match for two ‘Cats ― sophomore middle blocker Kennedy Hill posted a career-high 12 kills and 11 blocks, while Hernandez recorded career-highs with 21 kills and 14 digs and earned her first double-double.

“You see (Hernandez) digging the balls, attacking in a lot of tough situations,” coach Shane Davis said. “A lot of medium systems situations, where she’s hitting against the double block and then out of the back row … So she’s doing it all for us at this point.” 

The first set saw some well-rounded play by NU. Five digs apiece from Hernandez and Stinson provided a solid defense, while Rousseau dished out 13 assists to five hitters. Despite a last-minute rally by Indiana, the ‘Cats capped off a successful start to the match, leading 25-23. 

The second set began with a 5-0 run by the Hoosiers. The ‘Cats, capitalizing on Indiana’s errors, battled back to tie the match at seven. By set point, NU was poised to take a two-set lead. However, Indiana pushed back, forcing 12 set points and ultimately winning the set 34-32.

“We weren’t even thinking about the score at that point, and trying to respond to what they were giving us,” Hernandez said. 

Set three similarly started strong for the Hoosiers, and they maintained control throughout. Hill brought some life to the team, providing three kills and taking part in two blocks throughout the set, but Indiana stayed consistent, winning 25-21.

The ‘Cats bounced back in the fourth set, and had the lead four points in. Three Indiana service errors and a balanced attack from Dodson, Hernandez and Hill powered NU toward set five, 25-22.

The fifth set started strong for the ‘Cats with the help of a block from Hill and a kill from Dodson. Two kills from Hernandez secured them a 4-2 lead, the point of no return for NU as they worked their way to a 15-10 win to take the match.

“We came into it wanting a sense of pride in playing at home,” Dodson said. “It would take a lot to beat us at home. So I think from serving, passing, killing the ball everyone all around did really well.”

After three games without Julia Sangiacomo, the graduate outside hitter suited up and subbed into the match twice, but didn’t touch the ball. Davis said Sangiacomo’s status is “day to day.” 

Still without Sangiacomo’s regular double-digit kill contributions, the ‘Cats seem to be figuring things out with six players adding to the offense Sunday. 

“I feel like there were lots of hitters who had like a chunk of winning tonight,” Hernandez said. “No one had to carry the full load, which was nice.”

NU will return to the court against Illinois on Wednesday. 

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