Oct. 16, 2013
Northwestern 3, No. 17 Ohio State 1
Welsh-Ryan Arena Evanston, Ill. Attendance: 632
Box Score | Box Score
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern accomplished something it had not done since late in the 2010 season Wednesday night when it emphatically toppled No. 17 Ohio State, 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-19, 25-23), at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Coupled with Saturday's 3-2 win at No. 20 Purdue, the triumph over the Buckeyes marks the first time since the latter stages of the 2010 campaign that the Wildcats have knocked off back-to-back ranked opponents. The 2010 squad mauled No. 19 Michigan in the regular season finale before defeating No. 20 Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa. With Wednesday's win, Northwestern has knocked off consecutive Big Ten foes which were ranked in the top 25 (Purdue and Minnesota).
"It's a great win, obviously, any time that you can win in the Big Ten," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "Ohio State's been a really great team over the last five or six years, so we feel fortunate to have played as well as we did tonight. At the same time, we know we still have a lot of work to do because we've got Penn State coming in here this weekend and they present a whole new set of challenges for us."
Freshman Kayla Morin was sensational for the 'Cats, who improved to 12-7 on the season with the win. The newcomer buried a career-high 17 kills to lead NU and added 10 digs to secure her third career double-double and her first since Sept. 6 against Belmont.
Caroline Niedospial stood tall defensively, making one acrobatic dig after another for the Wildcats Wednesday. The redshirt sophomore paced Northwestern with 20 digs, while four of her teammates were also in double figures in that department.
"When people are camping out on the focal point of our offense, we need other players to step up and Kayla really did that tonight," said Chan. "It seems every night we've been finding players to do that and it makes a big difference.
"Caroline Niedospial was amazing tonight and so was Monica McGreal. You need all the pieces to come together to win in our league and we've been having success with that of late," said Chan.
The Wildcats set the tone for the evening with a 25-20 victory in the first frame. With the score knotted at 11 -11, Northwestern scored twice to take the lead once and for all. Morin posted six of her kills in the first set after starting the entire match with a service ace.
Ohio State flipped the script in the second set with a 25-22 win. NU's Stephanie Holthus scored on a kill to give the 'Cats a narrow 20-19 lead, but it would be short-lived. OSU setter Taylor Sherwin punctuated one of the longest rallies of the match with a kill that sparked a four-point run and gave the Buckeyes a 23-20 advantage. Holthus pulled her team back within two points at 23-21, but the visitors would eventually escape three points ahead of the hosts to even the ledger at a set apiece at the intermission.
The two teams traded early runs until a five-point blitz put Northwestern on top. Katie Dutchman started the run with one of her 11 kills, then with Abbie Kraus serving, Chicago's Big Ten Team extended its lead to 14-10. Soon the lead would blossom to five points at 21-16 following another termination from Morin. Later, OSU's Katilyn Leary committed one of her 10 attacking errors to seal the set in favor of the Wildcats.
The fourth set followed a similar blueprint to those prior with the two squads maintaining close proximity to one another throughout. After NU went on top 5-4, however, it refused to look back. A pair of monster aces from Monica McGreal helped Northwestern go up 16-10, but the Buckeyes, of course, would hang tough. Ohio State clawed to within a pair of points on multiple occasions before finally slicing its deficit to one at 24-23. Northwestern had five previous chances at match point before Dutchman finally put an exclamation point on her team's night that gave them a 25-23 victory in the set and a 3-1 triumph in the match.
Holthus picked up her team-high 10th double-double of the season for the 'Cats as she tallied 14 kills and 12 digs. McGreal matched her season high with 10 digs, while the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Caleigh Ryan added 10 digs and 43 assists.
As a team, the Wildcats registered nine blocks against Ohio State. Freshman Maddie Slater led the team with five and Morin posted four.
Northwestern continues its homestand on Sunday, October 20 when the fourth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions come roaring into Welsh-Ryan Arena. The first serve is set for 1 p.m. and young fans in eight grade and under are invited to stick around for a postmatch clinic hosted by the Wildcats. Space is limited so call 847-467-6862 to register.
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