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    Northwestern Hustles Past Indiana, 3-2

    Oct. 11, 2013

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    Northwestern Northwestern 3, Indiana 2
    University Gym • Bloomington, Ind. • Attendance: 1,051

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    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Winning on the road, especially in the Big Ten is no easy task, but the Northwestern Wildcats found a way to get it done Friday night as they roared past the Indiana Hoosiers, 3-2 (25-18,22-25,24-26,25-15,15-8).

    Northwestern won the first before losing the next two to face possible defeat. The relentless Wildcats stormed back to win the fourth with relative ease, 25-15, and the deciding fifth frame, 15-8. NU is now 3-1 in five-set matches this season, marking the first time since 2010 that head coach Keylor Chan's club has won three full-length matches in a season.

    The victory was the 200th career win for Chan as Northwestern's head coach. The bench boss won his 200th overall match last season when the Wildcats topped Yale on Sept. 8, 2012.

    "I was so proud of the way that the team refused to back down in the face of adversity," said Chan. "Indiana was playing some great volleyball and the crowd was really pushing them on all night long, but when it mattered the most, we trusted each other and found a way to secure those critical points and get the win.

    "We really responded well after losing that third set and imposed our style on them in the fourth and fifth sets," added Chan. "That's what great teams do and we found a way to get it done tonight."

    The Wildcats built an early six-point lead in the first game at 9-3 with the help of two early aces from serving specialist Abbie Kraus. Indiana would later pull within a pair at 14-12, but Northwestern successfully weathered the storm with back-to-back kills from Stephanie Holthus and Savannah Paffen to create some breathing room. The 'Cats brought their lead back to seven points at 24-17 before Holthus soon ended the set on a kill of a feed from Monica McGreal, 25-18.

    Holthus and Paffen each played well from the start Friday as they notched four kills apiece in the first frame. Northwestern, which never trailed in the opening set, hit .429 as a team in the first game and had a pair of blocks as it largely controlled the net.

    Indiana returned the favor with a strong start in the second set. The Hoosiers scored the first three points before a service error slowed their momentum. The Wildcats diligently chipped away until they gained their first lead of the game at 12-11 on an attacking error by IU's Morgan Leach. Indiana pushed right back and regained a 16-15 lead that they would never relinquish. Northwestern clawed to within two points at 20-18, and again at 23-21, but the home team was able to fend off the late charge and capture a 25-22 win and the knot the match at 1-1.

    Holthus had three kills in the second set to lead NU, but the Wildcats were unable to slow down Indiana's Chante George. After holding George to a lone kill in the first set, the redshirt sophomore terminated six balls in the second stanza. As a team, Indiana converted 16 kills, while Northwestern tallied only 12.

    Neither club was able to get a firm grip on the lead as the third set opened. Northwestern went up 9-7 when Holthus and Maggie Burnham joined forces for a block. The Hoosiers responded with four unanswered points to take their own two-point lead, but this frame was far from finished.

    Later, Burnham had a hand in another pair of blocks and a kill to put NU up 17-15 and force a timeout by IU head coach Sherry Dunbar. Her squad responded with another three-point surge that prompted Chan to signal for a stoppage of his own. After the quick respite, Northwestern's Yewande Akanbi produced a kill to even the score yet again. The give-and-take continued until a kill from Kalya Morin put the Wildcats up, 24-22. Facing set point, IU responded with two-straight scores to tie the game and then added two more to pull off a 26-24 comeback victory and take a 2-1 lead for the match.

    The third set featured a match-high 16 tie scores and six lead changes. Akanbi, who came off the bench in the second set, finished the third with five kills and three blocks to lead the 'Cats.

    Northwestern shook off its third-set defeat in rapid fashion and opened an 8-2 lead to start the fourth. Indiana pulled within four points, but Northwestern soon extended its cushion to nine points at 16-7, causing Dunbar to burn her second timeout. The Wildcats would not relent as they soon pushed the lead to 10 points at 18-8 and eventually forced a decisive fifth game with a 25-15 victory in the fourth.

    The Wildcats used a balanced attack in the fourth frame with eight players tallying a kill in the set. Even libero Caroline Niedospial found on open spot on the floor on an overpass to score.

    Northwestern continued to assert itself as the teams began the fifth set. NU's Holthus scored first as her team took an 8-2 lead out of the gate and never trailed en route to a 15-8 triumph.

    The 'Cats hit .615 in the final frame with nine kills and just one error. Holthus and Morin contributed three kills a piece and Akanbi notched an emphatic pair.

    Five Northwestern players scored at least eight kills, led by Holthus' output of a match-best 14. Paffen, Dutchman and Akanbi each had nine kills and Morin finished with eight. Burnham had a career-high six blocks to lead all players in the match Friday.

    NU's four-match road trip concludes late Saturday afternoon with a nationally-televised tilt against No. 20 Purdue at Holloway Gymnasium in West Lafayette, Ind. The first serve is set for 5 p.m. CT and the match will be shown live on the Big Ten Network with Mike Wolf handling play-by-play duties and former Ohio State All-American Audrey Flaugh providing analysis.

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