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    Northwestern Powers Past Portland State, 3-0

    Sept. 14, 2013

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    Northwestern Northwestern 3, Portland State 0
    Stan Sheriff Center • Honolulu, Hawaii

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    HONOLULU, O'ahu -- Northwestern never trailed late Saturday afternoon as it made quick work of the Portland State Vikings in its finale at the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge, hosted by the University of Hawaii. In the first match between the two programs in 31 years, the 'Cats beat Portland State with relative ease at the Stan Sheriff Center, 25-17, 25-17, 25-13.

    "I thought we played very well in all phases of the game against Portland State," said NU head coach Keylor Chan. "Both teams were hungry for a win to close this great tournament and we were fortunate enough to come out on top of this great match. The ladies had great energy and consistency throughout. Those are two key things that we'll take from this trip and build on them as we continue our journey."

    Northwestern hit a season-high .400 as a team with a season-low five errors. In the decisive third set, the 'Cats did not commit a single attacking error. Four players recorded nine kills or more in the victory that snapped a brief two-match slide.

    The Wildcats got off to a fast start late Saturday afternoon with the entire lineup playing a role in the 25-17 first-set triumph. The 'Cats got off to a quick 6-1 start with the help of two kills from middle hitter Savannah Paffen and two more from opposite hitter Monica McGreal. Moments later, freshman Maddie Slater got in on the act with her first kill of the match, one that gave Northwestern an 11-5 lead and forced Portland State to use its first timeout.

    All-American Stephanie Holthus terminated a ball that gave the 'Cats a nine-point lead at 18-9. The lead grew to 10 points shortly thereafter at 21-11 on another score from Paffen in the middle. Portland State mounted a brief comeback late in the frame, but eventually a kill from another newcomer, Kayla Morin finished off the Vikings. NU won the opening set, 25-17.

    Chicago's Big Ten Team TM continued to play crisp, consistent volleyball in the second game en route to another 25-17 triumph. The Wildcats hit above .360 for the second-consecutive game as freshman setter Caleigh Ryan continued to distribute the ball all over the court with ease. Holthus added six more kills in the second stanza, while McGreal added four more and Paffen put down another pair.

    Northwestern also got it done with its defense in the eight-point victory. Holthus had five digs and three blocks and Slater and Paffern were credited with a pair of stuffs. Caroline Niedospial had four digs in the second game and Abbie Kraus added three more.

    As had been the case all match, the Wildcats never trailed in the third set. The Vikings called a timeout trailing 15-7, but NU pulled away from there. Morin attacked an overpass to make it 19-11 in favor of the 'Cats and another soon after to make it 20-12. When the dust cleared Northwestern trampled Portland State, 25-13, to complete the impressive three-match sweep.

    Morin led the way for the Wildcats with 12 kills and Paffen was also in double digits with 10. Holthus and McGreal both finished with nine, while Holthus tied for the team lead with 13 digs. Niedospial also notched 13 digs in Northwestern's fifth win of the young season. Paffen, Slater and Holthus each tallied a team-high four blocks.

    Holthus was named to the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge All-Tournament team. The senior was also named the most valuable player of the Wildcat Challenge this season.

    Northwestern will return to the familiar confines of Welsh-Ryan Arena next weekend to host the Wildcat Classic. NU opens with two matches on Friday, Sept. 20 against South Florida at noon and Miami (OH) at 7 p.m. The tournament concludes Sunday afternoon, Sept. 22 when the 'Cats welcome IUPUI at 1 p.m.

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