Site: New Haven, Conn. (Lee Amphitheater)
Score: Northwestern 3, Villanova 1
Records: NU (7-0, 0-0 Big Ten), Villanova (4-4, 0-0 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Tonight -- at Yale (New Haven, Conn.), 6 p.m. CT
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Northwestern continued one of its best starts to a season in program history Saturday afternoon as the Wildcats knocked off the Villanova Wildcats at the Yale Invitational in New Haven, Conn., 3-1 (25-17, 22-25, 25-15 25-19).
By opening the campaign with seven wins in a row, the Wildcats have accomplished something that has not been done since 1987, when Jerry Angle's squad began the year with nine consecutive triumphs.
Sophomores Monica McGreal and Savannah Paffen each posted career highs with 16 and nine kills, respectively. Both players also recorded the best hitting percentages of their young careers at .467 and .533.
Preseason All-Big Ten honoree Stephanie Holthus chipped in with another double-double behind 13 kills and a match-high 16 digs, while Katie Dutchman added nine kills and a season-high six blocks Saturday.
"A ton of credit goes to Villanova for pushing us so hard this afternoon," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "We'll have to get off of our feet and rest up because we have another tough test against Yale this evening. They are one of the best teams in the Ivy League and, like Villanova, they're sure to be a great challenge for us."
The Wildcats picked up Saturday right where they left off against Brown on Friday. Northwestern jumped on Villanova at the onset and didn't look back. After grabbing a 3-2 lead in the first set on a kill from Holthus, the Big Ten Wildcats never trailed in the premiere set. NU built its lead to as many as nine points on two occasions while cruising to a 25-17 victory in the opening game.
Holthus, one of three players to tally 11 kills in Friday's win versus Brown, had a productive first frame as she scored on six kills with an attacking percentage of .667.
Villanova shook off its slow start to grab a five-point lead early on in the second set at 12-7, but Northwestern would not surrender so easily. The 'Cats began chipping away at their largest deficit of the afternoon with an 8-3 run to tie the score at 15 points apiece.
The back-and-forth battle continued with Holthus delivering a score to pull Northwestern to within one at 23-22. Unfortunately, that was the last point that the Wildcats would tally as Villanova scored the next two in order to even the match, 1-1, with a 25-22 victory in the second set.
Northwestern was able to get back on track in the third game. The Purple-and-White snagged a seven-point advantage at 18-11 after McGreal and Dutchman converted back-to-back kills. 'Nova signaled for a timeout, but the stoppage did little to effect NU's momentum at the time. Later, Dutchman and fellow middle blocker Paffen each recorded kills to give the Wildcats separate nine-point advantages before fifth-year senior setter Madalyn Shalter served up her first ace of the day to seal the 25-15 triumph and give Northwestern a 2-1 lead.
The 'Cats from the Big Ten used their comfortable third-set victory to spring out to a four-point cushion, 15-11, in the fourth. After the BIG EAST's 'Cats tied it up at 15-15, Northwestern nursed together an 8-2 run to all but finish off Villanova. Northwestern finished the fourth set, 25-19, on an ace by McGreal to close out the match and secure its seventh win in as many matches.
NU will finish the Yale Invitational later this evening against the host Bulldogs at 6 p.m. CT. Chan will be going for his 200th win as a collegiate head coach in that contest.
Please visit the schedule page for links to live stats and video coverage of tonight's match.
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! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive 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!