Aug 28, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- After months of anticipation and weeks of preparation, the Northwestern Wildcats are ready to compete once again at this weekend's Holiday Inn-West Bronco Classic hosted by Western Michigan. The 'Cats will open the two-day event on Friday, August 30 with a match against the host team before concluding their stay with matches against Oklahoma and Milwaukee on Saturday, August 31.
Northwestern welcomes back nine letterwinners to the squad this fall, including senior All-American Stephanie Holthus. NU's junior class features five returnees led by redshirt and 2011 All-Big Ten Freshman Team selection Katie Dutchman. The Wildcats boast three sophomores, two of which are also redshirts. To fill out the roster, head coach Keylor Chan has added six freshmen from far and wide to the mix.
Stay CLASS-y, Stephanie
Northwestern's lone senior, Stephanie Holthus has been named a candidate for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award ®. One of thirty nominees nationwide, Holthus has compiled notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. The group will be whittled to 10 finalists at the midway point of the season when media, coaches and fans will have an opportunity to vote on the candidate who best exemplifies the four categories.
NU freshman Kayla Morin is no stranger to Western Michigan University. The Portage Northern High School alumna was voted MVP of her team as a sophomore and a junior and was named Second Team All-State in 2011. Morin's, father, Dave, has been the head coach of the WMU Broncos men's tennis program for 17 years and led the program to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances.
To be the best, Northwestern will have to beat the best during the 2013 season. The Wildcats will have ample opportunity as they play 19 of their 32 matches against teams that are either ranked in the top 25 or receiving votes in the AVCA preseason coaches poll. That was released this month. The first of those tests comes bright and early Saturday morning when NU tangles with Oklahoma, a club that received votes in the poll.
Same Faces in New Places
Two of Northwestern's five returning starters will likely be doing so in new positions in 2013. After spending two seasons as a right-side hitter, junior Hannah Crippen is expected to take over as the team's primary setter this season. Filling the void on the right side will likely be redshirt junior, and team captain, Katie Dutchman.
Quick Scout: Western Michigan
The Broncos won the Mid-American Conference's West Division in 2012 and have been pegged to repeat the feat this season. Head coach Colleen Munson returns three starters from last year's squad, plus standout libero Lena Oliver. Oliver was the 2012 MAC Defensive Player of the Year and joins NU's Stephanie Holthus as a nominee for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award®.
Quick Scout: Oklahoma
The Sooners have been to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments under the direction of head coach Santiago Restrepo. OU has upperclassmen possessing a wealth of experience with five seniors and three juniors on its roster. Like Northwestern, Oklahoma boasts a 2012 AVCA All-America honoree in middle blocker, and team captain, Sallie McLaurin.
Quick Scout: Milwaukee
The Panthers are aiming for their ninth Horizon League championship in 11 seasons in 2013. UWM head coach Susie Johnson figures to rely heavily upon the experience and talent of senior Rachel Neuberger, the conference's preseason offensive player of the year. Milwaukee also welcomes back the 2011 Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, setter Kayla Price, who missed most of 2012 with a hand injury.
Keep Up with the 'Cats:
The season opener against Western Michigan will be streamed live on that school's web site for a fee. Live stats are available, free of charge, for all three contests and updates will be provided on Twitter by following @NUSportsLive and @NUVball.
More notes and information are available as a PDF at the top of this page.
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