Sept. 17, 2011
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
Score: Northwestern 3, New Mexico State 0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-19)
Records: NU (9-2), New Mexico State (10-4)
Next NU Event: Sept. 23, 2011 -- at Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.) 7 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern captured the championship at the 30th Wildcat Classic Saturday night with a sweep of New Mexico State at Welsh-Ryan Arena (25-18, 25-22, 25-19).
With the win, the Wildcats conclude their nonconference schedule with a 9-2 record. NU will open the Big Ten portion of the season next weekend.
"Our team goal entering this tournament was to finish and improve," head coach Keylor Chan said. "Without question, this was the most complete volleyball match we played this year. We are looking forward to the next chapter of the season as we enter Big Ten play."
Northwestern scored the first seven points of the match Saturday night with Alex Ayers serving the Wildcats all the way. A Katie Dutchman kill later in the set expanded that lead to nine, 13-4, before a Dutchman and Stephanie Holthus block made it a double-digit NU advantage, 20-10. The Wildcats earned their first set point at 24-15, then Yewande Akanbi put Northwestern on top in the match, 1-0, a few exchanges later with a kill for a 25-18 win.
Northwestern made its own offense in the first set, securing 18 kills and 22.0 total points.
In the second set, the Wildcats built an eight-point lead, 12-4, capping the early run with back-to-back Dutchman aces. New Mexico State came alive for the first time in the match, clawing all the way back to take an 18-17 lead. Immediately, Akanbi and Kathryn Chrystal made a block before Akanbi drove home a kill to kick-start a set-ending surge, sealed by two Hannah Crippen kills for a 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
While NU still secured 18.0 offensive points in the second set, New Mexico State made nine attack errors which greatly contributed to the NU win.
In the third set, it was the Aggies taking the quick early advantage, 5-2. Three Holthus kills helped a 4-0 NU spurt at that point, but New Mexico State quickly regained the lead, 12-9. Three more Holthus kills and an Ayers ace helped the Wildcats launch a 7-0 run that put Northwestern ahead for good with Akanbi again closing out the set, and this time the match, 25-19.
Holthus finished with 19 kills, a .429 hitting percentage and 21.5 points en route to Wildcat Classic All-Tournament team MVP honors -- her fourth all-tournament team nod in four events this year. Chin made a match-best 16 digs while Ayers contributed 10. Shalter had 42 assists (14 per set) in a tremendous performance; both she and Chin also were placed on the All-Tournament team.
"This was a very smooth tournament with a competitive field," Chan said. "All the teams performance admirably and put on a great display of volleyball for our fans."
Northwestern returns to action in its Big Ten opener at 7 p.m. CT Friday, Sept. 23 at Wisconsin.
WILDCAT CLASSIC FINAL STANDINGS
Champion: Northwestern (3-0)
Runner-up: Duquesne (2-1)
Third-place: New Mexico State (1-2)
Fourth-place: Colgate (0-4)
Jennah DeVries, New Mexico State
Ashley Buse, Duquesne
Taylor Jones, Duquesne
Julie Chin, Northwestern
Madalyn Shalter, Northwestern
Stephanie Holthus (MVP), Northwestern
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!