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    Wildcats Can't Hold Off Michigan State's Comeback Saturday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Stephanie Holthus tallied a match-high 19 digs Saturday against the Spartans.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Stephanie Holthus tallied a match-high 19 digs Saturday against the Spartans.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Nov. 19, 2011

    Box Score

    Score: Michigan State 3, Northwestern 0
    Site: East Lansing, Mich. (Jenison Fieldhouse)
    Records: NU (15-14, 6-12 Big Ten), Michigan State (21-9, 10-8 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Wednesday, Nov. 23 -- at No. 7 Illinois (Huff Hall), 7 p.m.

    EAST LANSING, Mich. -- For the second straight night it took all five sets for the Northwestern Wildcats to settle the score on the court and unfortunately for the second straight time, they were on the short end of the score as they fell at Michigan State Saturday, 3-2 (23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-12).

    Hannah Crippen (Plainfield, Ill./North) and Stephanie Holthus (Burlington, Ill./Central) supplied much of the offensive firepower in the match for Northwestern. Holthus tied for the match high with 22 kills, while Crippen chipped in with a career-best 18 terminations for the 'Cats. Yewande Akanbi (Houston, Texas/Dawson) also added 12 kills to the cause for NU.

    The Wildcats shook off Friday night's tough-luck loss at No. 23 Michigan rather quickly on Saturday as they bested the Spartans in the opening set, 25-23. Northwestern broke out to an early lead, but Michigan State fought back and eventually built a three-point lead at 19-16. NU methodically worked its way back into the set and tied the score at 22 on a kill sent home by Katie Dutchman (Del Mar, Calif./Torrey Pines); the Wildcats then capitalized on three miscues by the green and white to win, 25-23.

    The second set featured yet another late comeback by the visiting Wildcats. Northwestern controlled the scoreboard through the first half of the frame and built up a 16-11 advantage. The Spartans answered, however, and on the heels of an 11-5 run, regained the lead late in the set, 22-21. Akanbi delivered the set-tying kill and Alex Ayers (Playa Del Rey, Calif./Marymount) served a pair of aces sandwiched around an attacking error by Michigan State to give the Wildcats the 25-23 set triumph and a 2-0 overall lead in the match.

     

     

    Michigan State came back from the intermission and established an early 5-1 cushion in the third set. As was the case all night, however, the 'Cats worked right back to knot the score at 7-7 after Kathryn Chrystal (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) put down a kill. Then, Crystal and Akanbi combined for a ferocious block to give the Wildcats their first lead of the set. The two teams traded scores for much of the remainder of the game with neither team leading by more than a pair of points until the final margin. In the end, the Spartans were the last team standing in the third as they closed on a 4-1 run and cut the match deficit in half with a 25-22 victory.

    The Spartans continued to maintain the upper hand in the match, as they never trailed in the seven-point set win (25-18).

    The decisive fifth set was perhaps the tightest of them all. MSU raced out to a 4-1 lead, but the 'Cats, of course, would not go away easily. Northwestern worked hard to tie the score at eight points apiece and then the squads traded points all the way until the point where Michigan State seized a 14-13 advantage. Following a timeout, MSU's Kori Moster served up an ace to complete the comeback and capture the victory.

    Holthus added 19 digs to achieve her team-high 13th double-double of the season. Setter Madalyn Shalter (Ottawa, Ohio/Ottawa-Glandorf) also added her second double-double of the weekend against the Spartans as she handed out 53 assists to go along with 13 digs. Ayers finished the contest with three aces and 10 digs for NU, while Dutchman led her team with eight total blocks.

    The 'Cats will conclude their final road trip of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 23 when they travel south from campus down I-57 to Champaign, Ill. where they'll face No. 7 Illinois at Huff Hall.

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