Nov. 14, 2003
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Northwestern beat No. 23 Wisconsin on Friday night in four games, 24-30, 30-23, 35-33, 30-26. The win was the Wildcats' second over a ranked opponent in three matches.
The Wildcats (17-11, 8-8 Big Ten) relied on strong play from senior middle blocker Erika Lange (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) and setter Drew Robertson (Long Beach, Calif./Long beach Poly), but as head coach Keylor Chan emphasized, the 'Cats needed their full roster for the win over the Badgers.
"Drew and Erica played really well, but the win was still a team effort," said Chan. "We knew we needed to win to have a shot at the postseason, and it was great to get another win over a ranked opponent. I'm proud of my kids."
Things did not start out well for the Wildcats in game one, with Wisconsin hitting at .438 overall. Four badgers hit over .500 with two over .700. Wisconsin also held a 17-8 advantage in digs. While not able to put together any scoring streaks to test Wisconsin, Leah Delcourt (Rock Island, Ill./Rock Island) was a bright spot for NU, killing three of four.
Northwestern regrouped between games and countered the Badger attack early in the second before Wisconsin native Christie Gardner (West Bend, Wis./West Bend East) served for four-straight NU points. Robertson also carried the 'Cats on a four-point run for the six-point edge at 23-17. Northwestern took the game 30-23 to even the match at one game apiece.
Gardner hit five of nine in the second while Robertson was 2-5 with 11 assists. The Badgers held the .257 to .237 advantage in attack percent, as well as a 15-10 lead in digs. Both teams registered three blocks.
Game three illustrated the Wildcats' resilience, as fans saw NU hold a six-point lead in the middle of the game, only to see the Badgers tie it at 23 and later take a 28-26 lead. Freshman Lauren Greenwood (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood) was brought in to serve and tied the game at 29. The teams battled through four game points, with Lange serving for Northwestern's 2-1 advantage. A Wisconsin error gave NU the 35-33 win.
"The difference in this match was coming back to win game three," said Chan. "It was a big momentum swing for us."
Delcourt was another big factor in the decisive game four, hitting at .600 (3-5) with a team-leading five digs. Northwestern never trailed in the game, taking it 30-26. The 'Cats had four blocks in the game and held a .256 hitting percentage.
Lange was 18-36 overall (.417) with two solo blocks and five block assists. Robertson had 53 assists and eight digs.
"We're going to enjoy this victory and our day off tomorrow," said Chan. "Then we will focus on our next matches."
Those next matches are on the road next Friday and Saturday at Purdue and Indiana. Game time is set for 7 p.m. both nights.