Nov. 17, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern notched its second win of the weekend Sunday afternoon as the Wildcats outlasted the visiting Indiana Hoosiers at Welsh-Ryan Arena, 3-2 (25-16, 25-27, 25-23, 17-25, 15-10). The 'Cats swept the season series from the Hoosiers this year, winning both contests in five thrilling sets.
Monica McGreal enjoyed a career afternoon against Indiana. The junior buried a match- and career-high 21 kills at a strong clip of .318. Two other 'Cats, Yewande Akanbi and Stephanie Holthus, were also in double figures with 17 and 15 kills, respectively. Akanbi's 17 kills were a season high for the junior.
"This was a true team win with everyone contributing in their own way to help us get the job done," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "It was a little bit of a strange afternoon with some of the delays we had, but we ultimately found a way to overcome that bit of adversity and pick up another critical victory in conference play."
With the win, its 16th of the season, Northwestern has matched its total from 2012 with four matches left on the schedule. It was the eighth win in Big Ten play for NU, the most since the 2010 campaign. It was also the 11th win at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2013, tying both the 2010 and 2007 squads for the most home wins in the Keylor Chan era, which began in 2000.
After taking a 6-5 lead on an IU error Sunday, the Wildcats never trailed again in the first set. The 'Cats won the opening set, 25-16, behind a stout defensive effort all the way around and four kills from McGreal. As a team, Northwestern secured two blocks in the opening frame and coaxed Indiana into committing 10 total attacking errors.
Caroline Niedospial led a strong effort in the back row with four digs in the first set, while newcomer Kayla Morin chipped in with three.
Despite collecting 18 kills and committing only one attacking error in the second set, Northwestern was plagued by four service errors and three blocking errors as it fell, 27-25. The home team trailed 13-9 in the second stanza before mounting a 5-1 run that gave it a brief lead. The back-and-fourth battle continued until much later when the Hoosiers had the first crack at set point with a 24-23 lead. Akanbi denied that victory with a kill and soon McGreal gave Northwestern a one-point lead, 25-24. Following a timeout however, Indiana responded with three consecutive tallies to finish it off, 27-24, knotting the match at a set apiece.
The third set was another tightly contested frame. IU built a three-point lead at 12-9, but once again the 'Cats mounted a methodical comeback. Another Indiana error gave Northwestern a 16-15 lead and Akanbi gave her team a one-point lead (17-16) that they wouldn't relinquish with another termination. The Houston, Texas, native also finished off the Hoosiers, 25-23, with her eighth kill of the set.
Once the Cream and Crimson took a 5-4 lead in the fourth set, they would never trail. The Hoosiers built a lead as big as seven points before finishing off the Wildcats, 25-17.
Neither team was ready to give an inch as the decisive fifth set began. Northwestern took an 8-7 lead on a kill from Savannah Paffen as the teams switched sides for the conclusion. After IU's Amelia Anderson answered with her 19th kills of the match, the Wildcats began to put their foes to bed. Another kill from Akanbi and a block by Paffen and McGreal put the Wildcats up, 10-8, and they would not falter form there. Indiana fought off one match point, but McGreal notched her 21st and final kill of the match on a feed from Caleigh Ryan to earn the hard-fought victory.
Playing as a middle blocker for just the second time this season, Katie Dutchman paced Northwestern with a season-high 10 blocks, one shy of a career high. Ryan matched her previous-best effort with five blocks, while handing out a match-best 59 assists and adding nine digs.
Holthus added 15 digs in the victory to secure her team-high 16th double-double of the season. Niedospial recorded 20 digs Sunday, marking the 11th time this year that she has reached that plateau.
Northwestern will embark on a three-match road trip beginning Friday night, Nov. 22, when it visits Rec Hall to take on No. 2 Penn State at 6 p.m. CT. The Wildcats are also scheduled to play at Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 23, however that is subject to change based on other events taking place in Columbus, Ohio that day. Check with NUsports.com for updates.
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