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    Wildcats Prevail In Five-Set Thriller Against Wisconsin

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Kathryn Chrystal put down a career-high 10 kills and five block assists against Wisconsin.

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Kathryn Chrystal put down a career-high 10 kills and five block assists against Wisconsin.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Oct. 29, 2011

    Box Score

    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
    Score: Northwestern 3, Wisconsin 2
    Records: NU (13-10, 4-8 Big Ten), Wisconsin (13-11, 5-7 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Friday Nov. 4 -- at Indiana (University Gym), 6 p.m.

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- It took five thrilling sets, but in the end the Northwestern volleyball team was able to muster up enough effort and execution to knock off the Wisconsin Badgers, 3-2 (25-12, 25-27, 22-25, 25-16, 15-8) Saturday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. for its third consecutive Big Ten triumph.

    NU committed 11 fewer attacking errors than the Badgers on Saturday night, while holding Wisconsin to an attacking percentage of just .092 (48-32-173). The 'Cats hit at a clip of .247 (62-21-166), while setting a new season high with 62 kills. Northwestern also had 15 total team blocks Saturday.

    Yewande Akanbi (Houston, Texas/Dawson) eclipsed her previous career high by hammering down 18 kills, while teammate Stephanie Holthus (Burlington, Ill./Central) delivered a match-high 19 for the Wildcats. Setter Madalyn Shalter (Ottawa, Ohio/Ottawa-Glandorf) also set a new career-high with 49 assists in the victory.

    Wisconsin vs Northwestern: Highlights

    The Wildcats were able to carry the momentum of Friday's upset win over No. 15 Minnesota into the first set against the Badgers. The frame was tied early on at three points apiece when NU went on a quick 6-1 run to grab a 9-4 lead and force Wisconsin to burn an early timeout. The 'Cats continued to roll, however, with Akanbi supplying much of the early firepower. The newcomer accounted for a match-high six kills in the first set on 10 swings. It was defense, however, that carried Northwestern to a 25-12 triumph. As a team, NU amassed six blocks in the first set. Katie Dutchman (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines) collected five of her match-high 10 block assists to lead the way to a 25-12 set win.

    After dropping the closely contested second and third sets, 25-27 and 22-25, Northwestern dug in and played with the consistency that had briefly eluded them. The Wildcats jumped on Wisconsin early to the tune of 8-3 out of the gate. Then the 'Cats continued to pile on, scoring nine of the next 12 points to stretch the advantage to 17-6. The deflated Badgers would come no closer than seven points for the duration of the set. Holthus sealed the 25-16 set victory with a kill on a feed from Julie Chin (Naperville, Ill./North).

    Northwestern continued to roll as the fifth and decisive set began. Dutchman put NU on the board first with a kill. Wisconsin would tie it at 1-1 and again at 2-2, but after that, the Wildcats never looked back. Kathryn Chrystal (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) helped out with a lot of the heavy lifting in the frame. Nursing a one-point advantage at 4-3, Chrystal connected for her ninth kill to build the cushion. Then, the junior had her hand in three straight blocks to extend the lead to 8-3 as the teams switched ends. Hannah Crippen (Plainfield, Ill./North) and Holthus also had a share of the blocks in the crucial run. Chrystal would later add her career-high 10th kill in the set as NU went on to win, 15-8.

    "We were going to keep fighting as long as we had to," said head coach Keylor Chan. "We pushed and we refused to give. The team executed a really good scout again tonight and we played consistent volleyball, which is what it takes to win every night."

    The Wildcats never trailed in the fourth and fifth sets. Overall, the match featured 27 tie scores and eight lead changes. The win marked the third straight for the Wildcats, which they have not done since winning three in a row at the Wildcat Classic in September.

    Shalter had a season-high four aces for the Wildcats, while Holthus had a career-best seven total blocks. The sophomore also registered her team-best ninth double-double of the season.

    Northwestern will hit the road to open November with a pair of matches next weekend. On Friday, Nov. 4, the 'Cats will take on the Indiana Hoosiers at University Gym at 6 p.m. NU will look to complete the season sweep over IU after posting a 3-0 victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Oct. 1. The following night, Chan's squad will be in West Lafayette, Ind. to play No. 11 Purdue at 6 p.m. The Boilermakers got the best of the Wildcats in the first matchup this season on Sept. 28, winning 3-1 in Evanston.

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