Aug. 9, 2013
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Though the first match of the 2013 season is not scheduled for another three weeks, Friday marked the unofficial start of the year as the Northwestern Wildcats reported to campus to begin training camp.
Six newcomers will enter Welsh-Ryan Arena for the first time this weekend for practice where they will be joined by NU's nine returning letterwinners. Head coach Keylor Chan begins his 14th season at the helm for the Wildcats.
Northwestern brings back plenty of firepower this season including 2012 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America and two-time All-Big Ten honoree Stephanie Holthus. An all-around threat, Holthus enters her final collegiate season ranked 10th in program history with 1,294 kills and 15th with 1,003 digs.
In addition to Holthus, four other starters for last season's rotation are back for Chan and Co. Redshirt junior Katie Dutchman has been a steady contributor for the Wildcats in each of the past two seasons. As a middle in 2012, she led NU and ranked ninth in the Big Ten with a .332 hitting percentage; she also netted a team-high 108 total blocks. Dutchman was a member of the conference's All-Freshman team in 2011.
|Inside Northwestern Volleyball|
Northwestern's largest class is its six-member third-year group. Four juniors and two redshirt sophomores are ready to take the next step in their careers as upperclassmen. Junior Yewande Akanbi has finished second on the team in kills in each of her first two seasons in Evanston. After playing on the right side as a freshman and sophomore, junior Hannah Crippen is expected to take over as the squad's primary setter. Monica McGreal experienced a breakout season as a sophomore and Savannah Paffen was a key contributor in the middle after transferring in a year ago.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Maggie Burnham will add strong depth to that position group, while defensive specialist Caroline Niedospial will compete for the libero spot as she returns following a medical redshirt in 2012.
Abbie Kraus is the Wildcats lone sophomore on the roster. The Birmingham, Ala., native appeared in all 114 sets and added 1.78 digs per frame as a defensive specialist during her inaugural season.
Joining the nine returnees will be six newcomers to the NU Volleyball family. The group consists of outside hitters Kelly Boutelle, Kayla Morin and Rafae Strobos, middle blocker Maddie Slater, defensive specialist Abby Hofmeister and setter Caleigh Ryan.
The Wildcats open the season on Friday, August 30 at the Holiday Inn West Invitational against the host Western Michigan Broncos. The first opportunity for fans to catch the 'Cats in Evanston will be on Friday, Sept. 6 when they open the Wildcat Challenge against Columbia at noon at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Northwestern will also host Belmont that evening at 7 p.m.
Season tickets to catch all 17 home matches are on sale now. Click here to purchase tickets today.
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