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    Northwestern Drops Big Ten Opener to Wisconsin, 3-1

    Stephanie Holthus had a career-high 21 digs against Wisconsin.

    Stephanie Holthus had a career-high 21 digs against Wisconsin.

    Sept. 21, 2012

    Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
    Score: Wisconsin 3, Northwestern 1
    Records: NU (11-1, 0-1 Big Ten), Wisconsin (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Sunday, Sept. 23 -- vs. No. 12 Minnesota (Welsh-Ryan Arena), 1 p.m.

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern was defeated for the first time this season on Friday night when it fell to the visiting Wisconsin Badgers at Welsh-Ryan Arena, 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 24-26, 25-23). The match served as the Big Ten opener for both teams.

    The four-set match was an extremely balanced affair featuring 15 tie scores and six lead changes throughout. Wisconsin's three set victories were each by only two points, while Northwestern's win in the second set was by eight points, the largest margin of the night. The match was back-and-forth throughout, but it was Wisconsin's ability to close out each set that proved to be the difference.

    [Interview with NU head coach Keylor Chan]

    NU's Stephanie Holthus led all players with 18 kills Friday and a career-high 21 digs, while Katie Dutchman aided with 13 terminations at a .500 clip (13-2-22). Madalyn Shalter handed out 46 assists for the Wildcats and tied her own career-high with 22 digs in the contest.

    The visiting Badgers came out with the hotter hand in the opening set Friday. Following a service error on Northwestern, Wisconsin extended its early lead to five points at 12-7. The 'Cats chipped away at that and eventually pulled back to within a point at 20-19. Later, a bad set by Wisconsin made it a one-point affair, but another service error doomed Northwestern as the cardinal-and-white clad squad captured a 25-23 win.

    Northwestern was sharp from the onset of the second stanza. The 'Cats busted out to a quick 7-3 lead thanks to aces by Abbie Kraus and Monica McGreal. The Badgers clawed back, but never took the lead in the second. NU went on to claim victory, 25-17, capped off by a thunderous kill by Holthus on a free ball sent over by UW.

    Wisconsin had a 13-9 advantage at one point in the third set, but a 6-1 run by the Wildcats erased the deficit. Later, everything appeared to be going Northwestern's way late in the third as it led, 22-18. Unfortunately, the Badgers went on a tear of their own and finally recaptured the lead at 25-24. Finally, a big Badger block on a good swing from Yewande Akanbi sealed the set for the visitors, 26-24.

    The fourth set featured more tie scores, six, than any other, but in the end Northwestern came up short. Shalter earned her second of two kills on the night to knot the score at 21-21, but the 'Cats would come no closer down the stretch. The Badgers finally captured match point on their third attempt, clinching the match on a kill by Mary Ording.

    With 18 kills Friday, Holthus now owns 993 in her career as she attempts to become the 20th player in program history to record 1,000 in a Wildcat uniform. Libero Julie Chin dug out 15 attacks in the match and she needs only 21 to move into eight-place in program annals.

    As a team, NU averaged 22.75 digs per set Friday and recorded a season-high 91 digs in the match. The Wildcats continue to lead the Big Ten in that category with 17.84 per set overall this season.

    The Wildcats will be idle on Saturday and return to their home court to take on 12th-ranked Minnesota Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. All fans are invited to stick around after the match for a free showing of Disney Pixar's Toy Story 3 inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.


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