June 19, 2013
EUROPEAN TOUR CENTRAL
MILAN, Italy -- Northwestern wrapped up the volleyball portion of its European tour Wednesday afternoon with a spirited battle against the Italian U23 National Team, which included select members of its Olympic squad.
The Wildcats dropped all four sets that were played, however the score did not necessarily tell the entire story against one of the world's top teams. Playing at the Centro Pavesi, Italy's National Olympic Training Center, Northwestern's group exhibited tremendous energy through the match and never backed down in the face of adversity.
The fourth and final set was the closest of the bunch on the scoreboard. The teams were knotted at 16-16 when the Italians ripped off a seven-point run to take an insurmountable lead.
Stephanie Holthus led the Wildcats with her first double-double of the tour Wednesday by accumulating 11 kills and 13 digs. Yewande Akanbi, eight kills, and Katie Dutchman, five kills, also helped carry the load offensively. Savannah Paffen had three kills and an ace, while Monica McGreal did a little bit of everything with three kills, four digs, a block and an ace.
Northwestern's back row was as tested by the Italian attack as it will be all year and it repeatedly stood tall to the challenge. Libero Caroline Niedospial notched double-digit digs with 10, while Abbie Kraus added seven. Up front, Maggie Burnham, Hannah Crippen and Dutchman each notched three blocks apiece. Crippen handed out 26 assists and recorded seven digs.
The Wildcats will spend the evening in Milan before trekking to Cinque Terra on Thursday. Northwestern's traveling party will spend Friday and Saturday in Rome before returning to the United States on Sunday. Don't forget to follow the journey on the European Tour Central page.
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