Site: New Haven, Conn. (Lee Amphitheater)
Score: Northwestern 3, Yale 1
Records: NU (8-0, 0-0 Big Ten), Yale (3-2, 0-0 Ivy League)
Next NU Event: Friday, Sept. 14 -- vs. Delaware (Evanston, Ill.), Noon
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Many teams may be daunted by the task of starting the season with eight matches away from home, but not the Northwestern Wildcats who finished the trip with wins in every contest to help achieve its best start since 1987.
Northwestern won twice Saturday, both times by scores of 3-1, against Villanova and Yale, to capture its third straight nonconference tournament to start the season. The eight total wins to start the season are the most by any Wildcat team since the '87 squad rattled off nine straight to open the campaign.
The win also marked a milestone for NU head coach Keylor Chan. Chan, in his 14th season as a collegiate coach and his 13th in Evanston, collected his 200th career win against the Bulldogs. For Chan, 182 of those triumphs have come while serving as Northwestern's bench boss.
"All credit goes to the tremendous players that have gone through the program," said Chan. "We talk regularly about being a family and you don't win volleyball matches as an individual, you do win as an entire unit. I'm thrilled to be part of the family and I'm looking forward to many more victories with this group."
Stephanie Holthus, behind a 20-kill and four-block performance against Yale, captured tournament MVP honors for the third straight week. She was joined this weekend on the Yale Invitational All-Tournament team by teammates Katie Dutchman and Monica McGreal.
Holthus averaged four kills per set in three matches and tallied 3.55 digs per set. Dutchman led the Wildcats with 11 blocks over the weekend, while adding six aces and 2.73 kills per set in the middle. McGreal had her best two-day stretch in a Northwestern uniform with 2.36 kills per set at a clip of .455 (30-5-55). The sophomore collected a career-high 16 kills in Saturday's first match against Villanova.
Senior setter Madalyn Shalter continued to distribute the ball around the court as she averaged 12.69 assists per set at the Yale Invitational. The Ottawa, Ohio, native leads the Big Ten in that category in her second season at the position with 12.10 assists per set through eight matches.
Libero Julie Chin led the Wildcats with 3.64 digs per set over the weekend and now owns 1,150 for her career in a Northwestern uniform. That number ranks Chin ninth all-time in NU annals.
The 'Cats hit .255 in the three matches at the Yale Invitational, while holding their opponents to .190. In fact, Chan's squad held the advantage in most major statistical categories, including a 164-135 edge in kills, a 199-178 advantage in digs and a stunning 22-6 edge in service aces.
"We played well in most facets of the game this weekend," said Chan. "This was another strong field designed to prepare us better for the challenges that we'll face in our conference. I'm thrilled that we were able to come away with three more wins."
The Wildcats won the first set against Yale, 25-23, after leading at one point 24-14. Northwestern withstood a fantastic run by the Bulldogs, whose persistence showed why they are the reigning Ivy League champions.
Yale made more than a significant run in the second set; the Bulldogs topped the Wildcats, 25-18, as the visitors were slow to find any offensive rhythm in the stanza.
Northwestern came out of the break and was able to pull out a pair of tight wins by a combined five points to escape New Haven with another trophy for the case.
Earlier Saturday, the Wildcats knocked off the identically nicknamed Wildcats of Villanova, 3-1. McGreal paced Northwestern with a career-high 16 kills and Savannah Paffen added a personal-best nine in the win. For a full recap of the earlier match, click here.
After opening the season with eight matches away from home, Northwestern returns to Welsh-Ryan Arena for the first time on Friday, Sept. 14 for the Wildcat Classic. NU will take on Delaware at noon and Saint Louis at 7 p.m. The tournament concludes on Sunday, Sept. 16 when the 'Cats take on the Western Michigan Broncos at 1 p.m. For tickets, call 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775).
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