Aug. 20, 2010
2010 Volleyball Season Tickets Now On Sale!
EVANSTON, Ill. -- As the 2010 volleyball season creeps closer, head coach Keylor Chan seems to have a little extra excitement in his voice. Take a glance over the Wildcat roster, and it is easy to see why.
Coming off an eight-match improvement in 2009 and a sixth-place finish in the Big Ten, Chan returns five starters and 10 letterwinners to the Wildcat squad, which was bolstered in the off season by the signing of four highly touted freshmen and a fifth-year honorable mention All-America transfer. Needless to say, expectations are high in Evanston.
"I'm excited to have a veteran team," Chan said. "We have a great mix of veteran leadership, talent and also some young players that will bring some new energy. I think we have a great balance of what you look for in an upcoming season. There aren't a lot of questions heading into the year. We just have to go out and play good volleyball."
Keylor Chan is back for his 11th season on the Wildcat sidelines and looks to have one of the most experienced teams during his tenure. Chan is the second-winningest coach in Northwestern history with a 138-170 record in Evanston, including a 70-130 mark in Big Ten play, as the Wildcats have qualified for three NCAA tournaments under his watch.
Rejoining Chan on the Wildcat sideline will be assistant coaches Kirstine Jensen and Aaron Smith, both entering their second year with Northwestern and bringing strong Big Ten playing backgrounds with them.
The middle blocker position has traditionally been the core of the Wildcat team and 2010 will be no different as Northwestern returns one of the top middle blocking duos in the Big Ten in seniors Sabel Moffett and Naomi Johnson.
Moffett emerged as one of the conference's top players in 2009, ranking among the Big Ten leaders in nearly every statistical category while leading the Wildcats in kills, hitting percentage, and blocks. Her. 349 attack percentage set a new single-season high for the program as she was selected as an AVCA honorable mention All-American in addition to being named All-Big Ten.
Johnson is also coming off her best season in a Wildcat uniform after ranking second on the team in kills, hitting percentage and blocks while leading Northwestern in service aces. She was also among the conference's leaders in a number of categories and will again team up with Moffett to give the 'Cats veteran leadership
Kathryn Chrystal played a key role in her redshirt freshman campaign, recording 104 kills and 77 blocks, and will add depth and experience up front. Chan also added freshman Katie Dutchman, who should compete for quality playing time as well.
The deepest position on the Northwestern roster, the outside hitters are also comprised of a nice mix of experienced veterans and talented newcomers. Senior Brittani Gray will look to leave her mark on the program as she looks to build on a 2009 campaign in which she was hampered by a foot injury, yet still ranked fifth on the team in kills (119) and sixth in blocks (24).
Northwestern added an experienced and proven outside hitter in Christina Kaelin, a fifth-year transfer from Notre Dame where she was a two-time All-Big East selection and an AVCA honorable mention All-American in 2008. Kaelin, who is pursuing her postgraduate degree at Northwestern, finished her career in South Bend with 982 kills and 88 blocks.
Junior Alex Ayers adds more experience to the position after tallying 132 kills in 2009, the fourth-highest total on the squad. A talented player who can fill a number of roles, Ayers also ranked second on the Wildcats in service aces while tying for third in digs.
After suffering an ankle injury early in the 2009 season, redshirt sophomore Madalyn Shalter looks to return to the level she was at the beginning of last season, recording 62 kills and 25 blocks through the first nine matches. Chan also brought in a pair of high school standouts in Gabrielle Gray and Stephanie Holthus, both of which could make an impact early in their Wildcat careers. Gray is also available to fill in as a back-up setter if needed.
Senior Elyse Glab has already made her mark in the Wildcat record books and will be counted on to fill the role of on-court leader. Glab enters her final season in Evanston with 3,506 career assists, which ranks fourth in program history, and is coming off an impressive junior campaign in which she set personal bests in kills, hitting percentage and digs.
This season's liberos have the biggest shoes to fill after the graduation of Kate Nobilio, the 2009 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year who ended her career second all-time in digs in conference history.
But junior Mary Grace Gallagher and sophomore Julie Chin both look to be up to the challenge. Both have match experience under their belts as Chin notched 103 digs in 15 matches as a true freshman while Gallagher tallied 38 digs in 13 appearances in 2009.
Sophomore Maria Turner should get some playing time for Northwestern in 2010 after missing her freshman season with injuries. Freshman Jenna McNaney was also brought in to provide depth to the position.
Once again, head coach Keylor Chan has put together a challenging slate for the Wildcats, combining a balanced preseason schedule with an always competitive Big Ten slate. Northwestern plays 14 matches against eight schools that qualified for the NCAA tournament, including three-time national champion Penn State and national semifinalist Minnesota.
One highlight of the Wildcats' 2010 preseason tournament schedule is an abundant amount of Chicago home cooking. Northwestern opens up the season with the Chicago Challenge, hosted by DePaul the first weekend of August.
Northwestern then opens up its home slate by hosting the first of two home tournaments at Welsh-Ryan Arena, welcoming Mississippi, Morehead State and Utah to Evanston for the 2010 Northwestern Challenge.
The Wildcats then travel to Athens, Ohio, competing in the Baymont Inn Suites Invitational against Tennessee, Pittsburgh and the host Bobcats.
Northwestern's final preseason tune-up will be back at Welsh-Ryan for the 29th annual Wildcat Classic. The 'Cats look to defend their 2009 tournament title against a challenging slate comprised of Charlotte, Harvard and Marquette.
From there, another challenging 20-match schedule against Big Ten opponents awaits Northwestern, which opens up the conference slate with home matches against Indiana and Purdue, a pair of teams that the Wildcats swept during the 2009 season.
After a road swing which includes rivals Wisconsin and Illinois, Northwestern returns home for a pair of matches against Iowa and Minnesota, with the showdown against the Gophers being aired on the Big Ten Network
That starts arguably the most challenging swing of the schedule for the Wildcats, as the next six matches will pit Northwestern against 2009 NCAA tournament teams. The 'Cats head to Michigan to take on the Wolverines and Spartans, followed by tough home contests against Ohio State and three-time defending national champion Penn State.
The second half of the Big Ten slate commences with a road trip to Minnesota and Iowa, with November opening up with a pair of home matches against Illinois and Wisconsin.
A four-match road swing then awaits the Wildcats, taking Northwestern to Purdue, Indiana, Ohio State and Penn State in consecutive weekends. The regular season wraps up at home as the Wildcats host Michigan State and Michigan to wrap up the 2010 regular season campaign.
The Big Ten challenge should be no different than in years past, but it is a challenge Chan and the Wildcats are looking forward to.
"We all want the same thing, which is to be among the top teams in the Big Ten. It's just a matter of going out and doing it on a daily basis."
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats! -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter and become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! Get the latest news, schedule updates, video and interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!