Sept. 20, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern got out to a sluggish start Friday afternoon, but the Wildcats roared back from a 2-0 deficit to knock off the South Florida Bulls, 3-2 (22-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-21, 15-7), in their first of two matches at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday.
Northwestern fell behind, 2-0, to their pesky foes from South Florida. The Wildcats were having trouble with their first contact in the early going and USF made them pay a 25-22 triumph in the first game and a 25-19 victory in the second stanza.
Once Chicago's Big Ten Team TM got a 2-1 lead in the third game, it never looked back. Northwestern went on a 10-1 run to open an 11-3 advantage that the Bulls couldn't overcome. The fourth set was a bit tighter, but using a four-point run with the score knotted at 14-14, the Wildcats got ahead for good and went on to win, 25-21, thanks in large part to three consecutive kills from Yewande Akanbi to close the game.
The fifth and final game belonged to Northwestern from the first serve. After erupting to take a 6-1 lead in the race to 15 points, NU never let USF closer than three points the rest of the way as it coasted to a 15-7 victory.
Stephanie Holthus turned in a spectacular effort behind a season-high 27
kills and a career-best 24 digs. Her 27 kills were one shy of a career-high, set previously on Nov. 16, 2012. Holthus turned in her first 20-plus kill effort of the young season, but she had plenty of help along the way to topple the Bulls.
Akanbi and Maggie Burnham both played pivotal roles off the bench for NU Friday. Akanbi, a junior, put down a season-high 13 kills and added a pair of blocks. Burnham, playing in only her third match of the season, blasted a career-high nine kills, and did so on 14 attempts with just one hitting error. The redshirt sophomore also had four blocks to lead the 'Cats.
Caleigh Ryan handed out a career-high 61 assists and matched her previous career high with 13 digs. Libero Caroline Niedospial had 17 digs, three assists and a pair of service aces to help Northwestern's cause.
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround before tonight's match against the Miami (OH) RedHawks. Miami is currently riding a four-match winning streak and has captured nine of 10 contests this season. The RedHawks fell to IUPUI in the opening match at the Wildcat Classic this morning, 3-1. Tonight's first serve is set for 7 p.m.
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