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    'Cats Drop Heartbreaker at No. 11 Nebraska as Holthus Breaks Record

    Nov. 2, 2013

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    Nebraska No. 11 Nebraska 3, Northwestern 2
    Bob Devaney Sports Center • Lincoln, Neb. • Attendance: 8,123

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    LINCOLN, Neb. -- Northwestern went the distance for the seventh time this season Saturday night, but for only the second time, the Wildcats were on the short end of the result as they fell to No. 11 Nebraska, 3-2 (21-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 15-13), at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.

    Though it came as her team dropped a heartbreaking conference clash, senior captain Stephanie Holthus broke a Northwestern record Saturday night that had previously stood for the past 25 years. With her third kill of the fourth set and her 11th of the evening, Holthus recorded the 1,667th termination of her career as she passed Janine Makar to become the program's all-time leader in kills.

    "Stephanie has been such an important person in our program over the past four seasons and it's great that she's been able to etch her name in the record book," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "Myself, Stephanie, and our entire team wishes that we could have made it into an even more memorable night by picking up another Big Ten win on the road," added Chan.

    "Nonetheless, we're in a good position by splitting these two road matches as we head home for a few weeks to play four straight at our place beginning Friday night," said Chan.

    As the match began, Northwestern fell behind 8-4 early on in the first set, but the 'Cats used a lengthy 10-3 run to grab a 14-11 lead. The three-point lead was cemented when Monica McGreal ripped back-to-back aces off Nebraska's Amber Rolfzen. The Wildcats would never trail from that point forward in the first set as they worked their way to a 25-21 triumph in the opening frame. The Huskers fought off one set point, but NU's Holthus and Savannah Paffen teamed up to block Rolfzen's final effort and seal the win.

    The Wildcats continued to play well as the teams opened the second set Saturday night. Another kill from Holthus gave Northwestern a 12-10 lead, but Nebraska soon produced a 10-2 run that put them up by seven points. Yewande Akanbi and Katie Dutchman converted a couple of kills late in the set, but the Huskers hung on to win 25-17 and even the match at a set apiece.

    Chicago's Big Ten Team appeared to regain some of its momentum as it opened up a 10-5 lead when Paffen tallied a huge solo block and a kill. The Wildcats extended the lead to five points at 17-12 on a kill from Kayla Morin, but Nebraska climbed all the way back to even the score at 19 points apiece later on. The Huskers would not regain the lead, however, as Northwestern produced three-straight points after the score was tied, including a block and a kill from Akanbi. The junior had another big kill down the stretch before Dutchman slammed home an overpass to terminate the set in favor of the Wildcats, 25-21.

    In a furious effort to extend the match to a fifth set, Nebraska came out determined in the fourth set. Northwestern went up 4-1 early on the strength of Holthus' record-breaking kill, but Nebraska came back with a 6-1 run to take the lead for good. The home squad went up by eight points, 19-11, but even a late push by the Wildcats couldn't close the gap all the way. Nebraska held on to win the fourth set, 25-17.

    NU attempted to set the tone as it scored two quick points to open the decisive frame. The more than 8,000 fans in the building soon willed the Huskers to a 9-4 lead, forcing Chan to use a timeout. Taking a consistent and steady approach, the Wildcats chipped away and eventually tied the score once again at 12 points apiece following back-to-back kills from Holthus. The Huskers scored the next two points, however, and Holthus and her teammates fought off one match point before Kelsey Robinson emphatically ended Northwestern's long day in Lincoln.

    Holthus picked up her 13th double-double of the season behind a team-best 17 kills and adding 12 digs against the Huskers. NU libero Caroline Niedospial notched a match-high 21 digs, while McGreal matched a season-high with 10 digs in the loss. Maggie Burnham led the charge at the net for Northwestern with four blocks to go along with five kills.

    The Wildcats return home to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday, Nov. 8 for the first of four straight matches in front of the Purple and White faithful. Northwestern will open the homestand against the Michigan State Spartans at 7 p.m. before hosting the Michigan Wolverines in a Sunday matinee on Nov. 10 at 1 p.m.

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