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    Relentless Wildcats Topple Michigan in Thrilling Fashion, 3-1

    Stephanie Holthus earned a career-high 28 kills in a four-set win over the Wolverines

    Stephanie Holthus earned a career-high 28 kills in a four-set win over the Wolverines

    Nov. 16, 2012

    Box Score

    Watch: Michigan Match Highlights

    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
    Score: Northwestern 3, (rv) Michigan 1
    Records: NU (16-12, 5-12 Big Ten), Michigan (21-10, 9-8 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Saturday, Nov. 17 -- vs. (rv) Michigan State (Welsh-Ryan Arena), 7 p.m.

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Behind a masterful team effort, the Northwestern Wildcats bested the Michigan Wolverines in front of a spirited crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday night, 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 29-27, 25-18). The victory is the first for NU over its Big Ten foe from Ann Arbor, Mich. since a similar 3-1 win on Nov. 6, 2009.

    Junior outside hitter Stephanie Holthus turned in not only her best performance of the season, but arguably of her career. The Burlington, Ill., native hammered down a career-high 28 kills in the four-set victory and complemented that effort with 19 digs, four blocks and two assists. Holthus was also the most efficient 'Cat on the attack with a hitting percentage of .404.

    Yewande Akanbi was also in double figures offensively for Northwestern with 12 kills. Savannah Paffen and Katie Dutchman sent down a match-high six blocks apiece, while Madalyn Shalter added 46 assists and 17 digs on the night.

    Michigan Match Highlights

    In addition to Holthus and Shalter, Northwestern's back row received outstanding efforts from Julie Chin, Abbie Kraus and Monica McGreal, who added 17, 11 and eight digs, respectively.

    The Wildcats tallied a season-high 14 blocks in victory Friday. They also recorded a team attacking percentage of .255, their best offensive effort since a five-set win at Wisconsin on Oct. 28.

    "This really was a total team effort in every sense," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "Every single person on this team contributed in a big way tonight. We needed this one and our team worked so hard to make it happen. I'm proud of how much work they put in throughout the week to get this done."

    Michigan had the upper hand early as it grinded its way to a 25-22 victory in the first set. The Wolverines led by as many as six points at 18-12 before the Wildcats unleashed a 9-3 run to even the ledger at 21-21. After Lexi Erwin scored a kill to put her team up 24-23, the junior ripped off Michigan's only service ace of the set to seal the win.

    Northwestern jumped on the Maize and Blue early in the second set. Hannah Crippen set the tone with her second kill of the night to draw first blood and spark a 6-1 run to open the frame. The two squads battled back-and-forth until Michigan snagged an 18-17 lead, prompting the 'Cats to call a timeout.

    After a service error by the Wolverines evened the score at 21-21 in the second set, Holthus and McGreal scored on back-to-back kills to take a short-lived two-point lead. Later, Michigan was able to sideout the 'Cats on their first attempt at set point, but on the second attempt, Holthus crushed her 10th and final kill of the game to give the Wildcats a 25-23 triumph, evening the match at one set each at the intermission.

    The third set was another tight affair. After the teams split the first 20 points down the middle, the Wolverines went on a 9-4 run to create a five-point cushion at 19-14. The unyielding Wildcats would not go away, however. NU roared all the way back to knot the score at 22 points apiece on a block by Paffen and Shlater.

    Michigan had the first crack at winning set three, leading 24-23, but Dutchman and Shalter came together to deny Molly Toon's attempt and extend the match. Shalter then served up her lone ace of the night to give Northwestern the lead once again, 26-25. Back-and-forth it went until back-to-back errors on the Wolverines placed a 29-27 victory on the side of the Wildcats.

    The 29 points scored in the third set Friday were the most in a single set this season.

    Reaction from NU head coach Keylor Chan

    After capturing the exhilarating third set, Northwestern had momentum on its side yet again to open the fourth. The Wildcats got off to a quick 5-1 lead before Michigan came back to tie the score at 7-7 early on. Paffen connected for her second kill of the frame to give NU an 8-7 lead and the Wildcats would never trail again for the rest of the night.The Wolverines fought until the final point, but Northwestern simply would not be denied. Crippen's fifth kill of the match set the stage for her team to close the match and when Toon's effort sailed long, the Wildcats had earned a 25-18 victory in the game and a 3-1 success in the match.

    Northwestern will play the second of three consecutive home matches tomorrow night when it hosts the Michigan State Spartans. The Wildcats nipped the Spartans in their first meeting of the year on Oct. 12, 3-1, in East Lansing, Mich. The first serve for Saturday's rematch is set for 7 p.m.


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