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    Northwestern Drops Big Ten Battle at No. 14 Michigan

    Oct. 4, 2013

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    Michigan Wolverines No. 14 Michigan 3, Northwestern 1
    Cliff Keen Arena • Ann Arbor, Mich. • Attendance: 1,360

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    ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Northwestern took the opening set from No. 14 Michigan at Cliff Keen Arena Friday night, but the home team responded to win the next three games to earn its first Big Ten win of the season, 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-13).

    "We were in a great fight with an unbelievably talented Michigan team," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "I thought we did some things well, but we struggled to earn critical points. We battled back time and again, but they showed why they are so tough to beat at home. They fed off the crowd's energy and really limited what we tried to do throughout the match.

    "We'll take a look at what we did well tonight and what we can improve on and get back at it against another great team in Michigan State tomorrow. There are no nights off in the Big Ten," added Chan.

    The Wildcats nearly squandered a late lead to the home team in the first game. Following a three-point run, NU led 23-20, but the Wolverines responded with a three-point streak of their own to even the score once again. The lone senior on Northwestern's roster, Stephanie Holthus, took charge and buried her fifth kill of the game to give her team a one-point edge. Then, the team's lone Michigan native, Kayla Morin, closed the frame with her fourth termination to give the 'Cats a 25-23 first-set victory.

    Holthus continued her ascent to the top of NU's all-time leaderboard in kills during the opening stanza. With her third kill of the match, Holthus surpassed Lindsay Anderson (2004-07) and moved into sole possession of fourth place on Northwestern's all-time list with 1,517. Dawn Reig (1980-83) is the next former standout in Holthus' sight; Reig collected 1,546 kills during her illustrious NU career.

    Following its first-set loss, Michigan threw a furious counterpunch and the Wildcats were unable to respond. U-M took an 8-3 lead and even a timeout called by Chan couldn't slow it down. The Wolverines, behind a strong blocking effort at the net, eventually pushed the lead to nine points at 18-9 before the Wildcats roared back into contention.

    Northwestern ripped off a ferocious 8-2 run to pull within three points at 20-17 following a kill from redshirt junior Katie Dutchman. Another point from Dutchman kept it at three points at 21-18, but the Wildcats ran out of steam and Michigan escaped with a 25-19 victory to even the match at a set apiece.

    The Wolverines blocked the 'Cats six times in the second game after recording just one in the opening frame. Krystalyn Goode led the charge with four blocks for U-M.

    Both teams looked to fire out of the gate in the third set, but the Wolverines and Wildcats traded runs and remained within a few points of one another early. NU grabbed a brief 12-10 lead, but Michigan scored 10 of the next 13 points to take a commanding 20-15 advantage. Chan tried to slow down the rush with a quick timeout, but the Wildcats would come no closer than four points down the stretch as U-M notched a second straight 25-19 triumph.

    Michigan seemingly couldn't be stopped early in the fourth set, as well. As was the case in the second game, the home team grabbed a quick 6-0 lead before Dutchman stopped the bleeding out of a timeout and got her team on the board with back-to-back kills.

    Unfortunately for the 'Cats, Michigan put together a 10-4 run to take a 16-8 lead. Northwestern was never able to gain the lead in the fourth set as the Wolverines sealed the match with a 25-13 win.

    Holthus led the Wildcats with 17 kills Friday, while Dutchman added a season-high 16 at a year-best clip of .429. Morin was also in double-figures offensively with 10 kills and she added eight digs.

    NU libero Caroline Niedospial posted a match-high 19 digs and teammate Monica McGreal posted 10 digs for the second consecutive match to match a season high.

    Northwestern won't have to wait long to face their next ranked opponent. The Wildcats will be in East Lansing, Mich. on Saturday night to face the ninth-ranked Michigan State Spartans. The first serve from Jenison Field House is slated for 6 p.m. CT. Fans can listen to that match live on the Spartan Sports Network or follow along on GameTracker.

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