June 18, 2013
EUROPEAN TOUR CENTRAL
MARIBOR, Slovenia -- While most of the United States was sleeping, Northwestern picked up the first win of its European tour Tuesday morning with a 4-0 victory in a four-set match against the Slovenian Youth National Team (SYNT) at the Dras Center in Maribor, Slovenia.
The contest, which began at 9:30 a.m. local time, was tight through the first two sets. In the first frame NU built a 9-6 lead when Maggie Burnham had a hand in back-to-back blocks and put down her first kill of the contest. The Wildcats traded rallies with their international foes until the host team grabbed a 25-24 lead on a service ace. Northwestern clawed back and secured game point on an attacking error by the Slovenians to win 28-26
The second set was back-and-forth throughout. Late in the stanza, Katie Dutchman notched back-to-back kills to give the 'Cats a 23-22 advantage. SYNT battled back until Yewande Akanbi sealed a 29-27 victory with an aggressive kill.
In the spirit of the Stanley Cup Final back home, the SYNT made a hockey-style line change to start the third set by bringing an entirely new lineup to the court. The Wildcats had a much easier time against this particular group as they won set three, 25-21 and the final frame, 25-10.
NU setter Hannah Crippen
distributed the ball all over the floor as four of her teammates recorded at least nine kills in the match. Stephanie Holthus
led the charge with 15 terminations, while Savannah Paffen
added 14. Akanbi had 13 and Dutchman finished with nine. Crippen handed out a tour-best 47 assists in the victory Tuesday.
The defensive effort was also staunch for the Wildcats. Paffen and Burnham were each credited with seven blocks, while Crippen helped out with six stoppers. Caroline Niedospial led the 'Cats with 12 digs, one ahead of Holthus, who had 11. Abbie Kraus dug out eight attacks and Monica McGreal chipped in with seven.
After the match, Northwestern ate one final meal at the Dras Center in Slovenia before boarding vans to travel to Venice, Italy. The final match of the tour will take place against the talented Italian U23 National Team at that nation's Olympic Training Center in Milan on Wednesday.
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