Sep 6, 2013
Northwestern 3, Columbia 0
Welsh-Ryan Arena Evanston, Ill. Attendance: 122
Box Score | Box Score
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opened the 2013 Wildcat Challenge Friday afternoon with a resounding straight-set victory over the Columbia Lions at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The 'Cats tamed the Lions by scores of 26-24, 25-22 and 25-15.
Freshman Kayla Morin paced the Wildcats with 16 kills Friday, a new career-high for the Portage, Mich., native. Morin hit a team-best .351 and added nine digs in the win. Senior Stephanie Holthus was also in double figures for Northwestern with 12 kills. The All-American added 11 digs to record her first double-double of the young season.
Columbia, playing its first match of the season, came out hot in the matinee affair. The Lions got out to a 4-1 lead, but the Wildcats never let their opponent out of sight. Morin gave her team the lead back at 12-11 with a thunderous kill, but Columbia didn't go quietly.
The magnificent Morin helped NU snatch a 24-21 lead with her match-high fifth kill of the stanza, but the Lions fought off three-straight set points to even the score at 24 apiece. Columbia served long to hand the Wildcats the lead for good and Holthus slammed the door with her fourth kill to give NU a 26-24 triumph.
The visitors shot out of the gate in fast fashion again in the second set, this time to the tune of 5-1. It took a little bit longer than before, but this time the 'Cats took control on another kill from Holthus that gave them their first lead since the previous set. A slew of miscues by the Lions put the Wildcats, specifically Holthus, in position to close Columbia out with a 25-22 victory.
Following a brief intermission, it was all Northwestern the rest of the way. Caroline Niedospial served back-to-back aces to give NU a 7-3 lead and it never looked back. The lead grew to as many as 10 points on several occasions throughout the third. Morin scored the final four offensive points for her team to close out a memorable match in her home debut.
Niedospial led all players with 14 digs, while Northwestern freshman Caleigh Ryan handed out a match-best 39 assists.
Northwestern will turn around quickly and take on the Belmont Bruins Friday evening at 7 p.m. The Bruins lost the opening match of the Wildcat Challenge Friday morning to Boise State, 3-0. Columbia and Boise State will set the table for the nightcap with a 5 p.m. tilt at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!