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    Wildcats Stifled by 13th-ranked Spartans, 3-1

    Nov. 8, 2013

    Michigan State Spartans No. 13 Michigan State 3, Northwestern 1
    Welsh-Ryan Arena • Evanston, Ill. • Attendance: 1,173

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern opened an important four-match homestand Friday night, and though the Wildcats got off to a great start, the home team fell to No. 13 Michigan State, 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-13, 25-14), at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

    "We didn't execute well enough from start to finish tonight," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "We came out of the gate with great energy and focus, but we were unable to maintain that high level throughout the entire match.

    "All credit goes to Michigan State," said Chan. "They came in here and played smart volleyball from the start. The best thing that we can do is to forget about this one quickly and turn our attention to another highly-skilled opponent that we'll see in here on Sunday in the form of Michigan."

    The Wildcats started off in dominant fashion and fought their way to a 26-24 nail-biting win in the first game Friday night. Both teams played at a consistently high level and neither team led by more than two points throughout the entire game.

    Michigan State scored first, but NU redshirt junior Katie Dutchman replied with the first kill of the game. Outside hitter Stephanie Holthus followed with her first kill to even the score early on. After a series of back-and-forth scoring, freshman setter Caleigh Ryan notched a kill and served an ace, her fifth career ace, to put the `Cat up 6-5 for their first lead in the game.

    Later on, newcomer Kayla Morin had two clutch kills to put the 'Cats up 23-22. Middle blocker Maggie Burnham notched a critical point to put the Wildcats at set point against the nationally-ranked Spartans. MSU fought back with a kill from Allyssah Fitterer and a double block by Autumn Christenson and Taylor Galloway to draw even 24-24. Soon Dutchman scored another termination to put the NU ahead 25-24 and finally the Spartans' Chole Reinig committed an attack error to cement the 26-24 triumph.

    Chicago's Big Ten team continued to play well as the teams opened the second set. The 'Cats pulled ahead 9-7 for their first lead of that game following a five-point run. NU held the lead briefly until the Spartans took the lead for good at 16-15. Savannah Paffen spurred a late Northwestern comeback with a kill and Holthus notched two critical kills in the final moments of the second game, keeping the `Cats within two points of Spartans. NU's comeback fell short however, and MSU won the game 25-21, to even the match at a set apiece.

    The home team fell behind early in the third game, 6-1, and could never gain the lead. Holthus kick-started a brief Wildcat rally and Morin followed with a kill to cut the Spartan lead in half, 8-4. The Wildcats continued to fight and maintained a four-point deficit with a huge block by Holthus and Paffen. MSU controlled the rest of the game to win 25-21.

    In an effort to put the match away, MSU came out hot once again in the fourth game. The Spartans scored eight of the first nine points in the fourth to create a cushion that the Wildcats could not overcome.

    Holthus had her 14th double-double of the season, behind a team-best 17 kills and 11 digs. Holthus matched MSU's Lauren Wicinski with a match-high 17 kills. Ryan added 44 assists and 11 digs in her ninth doulble-double of her inaugural campaign. Libero Caroline Niedospial registered 17 digs in the loss.

    After a day of rest Saturday, the Wildcats will be back on the floor on Sunday, Nov. 10 to Pack Welsh-Ryan Arena and take on the 17th-ranked Michigan Wolverines at 1 p.m. Students, who are always admitted free, will receive FREE pizza and Coke products. Coach Chan will donate $1 to Dance Marathon for every student in attendance to help ignite this year's fundraising effort. It is Camper Reunion Day and Wildcat Juniors Day. Participants from NU's Cross Country Clinic will receive a free ticket and NU Basketball fans can bring ticket stubs from either Wednesday, Nov. 6 or Saturday, Nov. 9 to gain free admission.

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