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    Wildcats Outlast Boilermakers, 3-2, In Big Ten Thriller

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Naomi Johnson knocked down a season-best 20 kills, helping Northwestern improve to 12-1 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play.

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Naomi Johnson knocked down a season-best 20 kills, helping Northwestern improve to 12-1 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Sept. 25, 2010

    Northwestern 3, Purdue 2
    Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill.
    Records: Northwestern (12-1, 2-0 Big Ten); Purdue (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten)
    Up Next: at Wisconsin • Friday, Oct. 1 • 7 p.m.

    Box Score
    Northwestern vs. Purdue Box Score Get Acrobat Reader
    2010 Northwestern Volleyball Statistics Get Acrobat Reader

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Matches between Northwestern and Purdue are normally competitive from the opening serve to the final point. Saturday night proved to be no different as the Wildcats outlasted the Boilermakers 21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 20-25, 15-12 for a dramatic five-set victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Four different Wildcats recorded double-digit kills on the night as Northwestern improves to 12-1 overall, its best start since posting a 14-1 mark through the first 15 matches of the 1987 season.

    "This was a win we feel we need to have tonight, and we knew it wasn't going to be an easy one to get," said head coach Keylor Chan. "Purdue is an extremely talented team and they are always up to play us and always gives us a challenge. I don't think we had any one player with a perfect night tonight, but together we were able to put it all together and get the victory. It was a good weekend to be a Wildcat."

    Naomi Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./Kennedy) once again led the Northwestern offensive attack, recording a season-high 20 kills with a .410 hitting percentage and three blocks. Sabel Moffett (Temecula, Calif./Chapparal) shook off a slow start to finish with 17 kills on the night to complement four blocks. Christina Kaelin (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) also set a season-best with 13 kills on the night while Stephanie Holthus (Burlington, Ill./Central) added 10 of her own.

    Holthus also notched the fourth double-double of her career, adding 13 digs on the night as five different Wildcats hit the double-digit marks against the Boilermakers. Julie Chin (Naperville, Ill./North) and Alex Ayers (Playa del Rey, Calif./Marymount) led Northwestern with 17 on the night with Madalyn Shalter (Ottawa, Ohio/Ottawa-Glandorf) setting a career-best with 15 to go along with five kills and a pair of blocks.

    Elyse Glab (Chicago, Ill./Resurrection) set a season-best as well in assists with 58, upping her career total to 4,076. Glab joined Holthus in the double-double club as well, recording 12 digs with four blocks in the victory.

    Northwestern established momentum early in the match, recording the first five points and maintaining that five-point cushion at 18-13. But Purdue staged a major rally down the stretch in set one, recording 12 of the final 15 points to steal the opener 25-21 from the Wildcats.

    Set two started out similarly to set one as Northwestern again gained control early and built a five-point advantage at 15-10. But this time the Wildcats were able to hold serve, thwarting a late 4-0 rally from the Boilermakers on set point to tie the match at one with a 25-22 victory.

    Set three was nearly a mirror image of set two as Northwestern jumped out to an early lead and never let up, taking the 25-20 win. Set four would belong to Purdue, however, as the Boilermakers opened up nine-point lead on the Wildcats, the largest of the night, at 22-13. Northwestern made it interesting, using a 7-1 run to pull to within three at 23-20, but were unable to get over the hump and dropped the fourth 20-25.

    After exchanging points early in the decisive fifth set, the Wildcats used a 3-0 run to pull ahead at 7-4, then extended that advantage to as many as five at 12-7. Northwestern remained in control down the stretch and kept the final Purdue rally at bay, sealing the match with a 15-12 fifth-set decision.

    Northwestern will now hit the road for a pair of rivalry matches in Big Ten play. The Wildcats travel to Madison for a showdown with the Badgers Friday, Oct. 1, before heading south to Champaign to battle in-state rival Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 2. Both matches get underway at 7 p.m.

    MATCH NOTES

    • Northwestern won its third in a row against Purdue, with each of the last three victories being five-set decisions.

    • The victory over Purdue marks the first time Northwestern has started Big Ten play with a 2-0 record since 2002.

    • With her four blocks on the night, Moffett moved into seventh-place in Wildcat history in both block assists (340) and total blocks (413).

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