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    Victorious Wildcats Outlast Jaguars, 3-0

    Sept. 22, 2013

    Northwestern Northwestern 3, IUPUI 0
    Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill. • Attendance: 335

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern extended its home winning streak to six matches as it captured the 32nd Wildcat Classic championship at Welsh-Ryan Arena Sunday by sweeping the visiting IUPUI Jaguars, 3-0. (25-17, 25-21, 25-14).

    NU's Stephanie Holthus was named the tournament's most valuable player, and with great reason. The team captain amassed 68 kills in her team's victories over South Florida, Miami (OH) and IUPUI. Holthus averaged a staggering 6.2 kills per set and broke a pair of records over the weekend. She hit .358 combined over the three matches and averaged 4.09 digs per set. The 2012 All-American recorded a career-high 24 digs against USF and finished one kill shy of a career high with 27 against the Bulls. In Friday's nightcap against the RedHawks, all Holthus did was set a Northwestern record with 24 kills in a three-set match.

    This marks the ninth time in her storied career that Holthus has taken home nonconference tournament MVP honors. With 68 kills this weekend, the outside hitter moved into sixth place on NU's all-time list in kills with 1,482. She sits only eight kills behind Madelyn Meneghetti, who is currently in fifth place.

    Holthus was joined on the Wildcat Classic All-Tournament team by libero Caroline Niedospial and middle blocker Maggie Burnham. Niedospial led Northwestern with 4.82 digs per set and turned in a tournament-high mark of 25 digs in the finale against the Jaguars Sunday. The Chicagoan also served five aces during the Wildcat Classic, including three in the opener against USF Friday.

    Burnham came off the bench against the Bulls and tallied a career-high nine kills and four blocks to help the 'Cats to a five-set triumph Friday afternoon. The redshirt sophomore played so well in the afternoon match that head coach Keylor Chan inserted her into the starting lineup for the first time in her career against the RedHawks that evening. Burnham added seven kills on eight swings against Miami and four more in Sunday's match. She also netted a career-high five blocks to lead all players against IUPUI. The Toledo, Ohio, native hit .679 and averaged a block per set on the weekend.

    The Wildcats got off to a red-hot start in the matinee affair. Northwestern opened up a 10-point lead at 15-5 when a bank of lights went out inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. The 'Cats were hitting .917 at the time of the outage, which lasted approximately 20 minutes. When light was restored, IUPUI made a late push, but NU hung on to win the first game, 25-17. The Wildcats finished with five blocks in the first frame and had four players with at least three kills apiece. Holthus led the way with five kills, while Caleigh Ryan and Savannah Paffen accounted for three blocks each.

    The second set was back-and-forth through the early stages. The score was tied at 12 points each when Chicago's Big Ten Team TM asserted itself with a 7-2 run to grab a five-point lead. The cushion soon expanded to seven points at 21-14 on a kill from Burnham. IUPUI pulled to within two points on a pair of occasions down the stretch, but back-to-back kills from Kayla Morin and Holthus sent the 'Cats to the locker room with a 2-0 lead following a 25-21 victory in the second game.

    In the third game the Jaguars pushed back early on but three consecutive kills off the powerful arm of Monica McGreal turned a two-point lead into five and the Wildcats never looked back. The lead blossomed to 11 points at 22-11 after back-to-back kills form Morin and Paffen before an attacking error on IUPUI eventually finished the match as NU won the set, 25-14.

    "We played great volleyball this weekend and it was exciting to see," said Chan. "As I said the other night, I truly believe this team has taken an important step in the process. They are learning what it takes to win those critical points on a consistent basis and that bodes well as we open Big Ten play next weekend here at home."

    Holthus led the way Sunday with 17 kills; Morin and McGreal were also in double-digits with 13 and 11, respectively. Both Holthus and McGreal also added 11 digs. It was the first double-double of the season for McGreal and the team-high seventh for Holthus.

    Ryan handed out 47 assists Sunday. The freshman from nearby Glen Ellyn, Ill. averaged 13.55 assists per set and 2.36 digs per set for the 'Cats this weekend.

    Northwestern opens Big Ten play next weekend with a pair of matches at Welsh-Ryan Arena. On Friday, Sept. 27 the 'Cats welcome the 12th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers to Evanston at 7 p.m. NU hosts the Iowa Hawkeyes to close out the weekend the following night, also at 7 p.m.

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