Oct. 28, 2012
Site: Madison, Wis. (UW Fieldhouse)
Score: Northwestern 3, Wisconsin 2
Records: NU (15-8, 4-8 Big Ten), Wisconsin (16-9, 4-8 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Friday, Nov. 2 -- vs. Indiana (Evanston, Ill.), 7 p.m.
MADISON, Wis. -- It took a full five sets to decide, but when the final kill had been hammered down, Northwestern came out on top of the Wisconsin Badgers at the UW Fieldhouse Sunday afternoon, 3-2 (25-11, 24-26, 9-25, 25-18, 16-14). It was the fourth Big Ten win of the season for the Wildcats and the third conference victory in a hostile environment.
"The team played great volleyball this afternoon," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "Those were two tough Big Ten teams fighting hard for every point on the court and I'm incredibly pleased with the way we took Wisconsin's best shot and still came out with a hard-fought win.
"Stephanie [Holthus] continued to play at a high level as she's done all season, but so many other people stepped up and played key roles as well. Our middle blockers had a great match, and our back row defense was as strong as its been all season," said Chan.
Stephanie Holthus shouldered the offensive load Sunday as she has done so often for the Wildcats throughout her career. The outside hitter led four 'Cats in double figures with a match-high 21 kills to go along with 15 digs, three blocks and an ace. It was the 13th double-double of the season for Holthus and the seventh time that she eclipsed 20 kills in a single match in 2012.
added 15 kills with a lone error, while fellow middle blocker Savannah Paffen
contributed 14 kills. NU libero Julie Chin
led the Wildcats with 18 digs, while sophomore Monica McGreal
had a career-high 17 digs for Northwestern.
Madalyn Shalter handed out a season-high 56 assists to her teammates, one shy of her career-high mark. The fifth-year senior added 11 digs to notch her team-high 16th double-double of the season. Sophomore Hannah Crippen tallied a season-best 11 digs, as well, one shy of her career high in that category.
Northwestern came out with high energy on the opening set in the Sunday matinee. The Wildcats scored the first five points of the match before UW called a timeout to try to stop the visitors' run. NU's lead later grew to eight points, 13-5, on a kill from Paffen and the 'Cats refused to let up. Northwestern won the first set 25-11, marking the second time this season that the team held an opponent to just 11 points in a single stanza. The Wildcats also held Cincinnati to that score in the first set of a 3-1 win on Sept. 1.
NU stormed out of the gate in the second set as well. With a one-set advantage on its side, the Wildcats led 8-1 early on in the game. The Badgers kept hanging around and strung together a lengthy run to eventually knot the score at 16-16; Wisconsin eventually took an 18-17 lead before closing out with a 25-18 triumph.
Wisconsin controlled the tempo throughout the third set. The Badgers held Northwestern to only eight kills in the set, while the visitors added eight errors as well.
Northwestern was undeterred by its sluggish performance in the third as the squads opened the fourth set. The Wildcats appeared loose and ready to tackle the challenge of forcing its second five-set match of the season. A kill by Holthus opened up an eight-point advantage at 21-13 and back-to-back terminations by Dutchman a few moments later sealed a 25-18 victory to force the decisive set.
The fifth set was by far the tightest of the bunch. The frame featured 10 tie scores and six lead changes, both highs for the afternoon. After an rare miss from Holthus gave Wisconsin a 12-10 lead, the Burlington, Ill., native rebounded with another kill followed by an ace from Paffen to equal the ledger once again.
Soon after, freshman Abbie Kraus showed the poise of a veteran when she stepped to the line to uncork a service ace of her own to give the Wildcats a 14-13 lead late in the set. Wisconsin fought off defeat and evened the score with a kill from Crystal Graff, but Holthus and Dutchman went back-to-back to close the set, 16-14, and send the visitors home victoriously.
The Wildcats return to Welsh-Ryan on Friday night where they will play five of their next seven contests. Northwestern hosts Indiana on Nov. 2; the 'Cats won the first tilt between the two programs this season, 3-1, on Sept. 29.
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