Aug. 29, 2008
CHICAGO, Ill. -- Behind 10 kills from sophomore Brittani Gray (Cincinnati, Ohio/Sycamore), Northwestern opened up the 2008 campaign with a convincing 3-0 victory (25-19, 25-21, 25-18) over Illinois-Chicago in the Chicago Challenge. The Wildcats (1-0) now face host Loyola Chicago in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Flames (0-1) and Northwestern exchanged points throughout the first set as NU held a 12-11 advantage midway through. But nine straight points put the Wildcats comfortably in control at 21-11 before holding off a late rally for a 25-19 victory.
Northwestern would take the early lead in set two, leading by as much as four at 17-13. UIC would fight back into the set, tying it at 20, but a late 5-1 surge by the `Cats secured the 25-21 victory to take a 2-0 lead.
Set three was similar to the previous two as NU slowly distanced itself from the Flames. Leading 20-14 late, Illinois-Chicago was able to close the gap to three at 20-17. But that was as close as the Flames could get as the Wildcats again outscored UIC 5-1 to cement the 25-18 set and their first victory of the season.
In addition to the 10 kills from Gray, senior Chelsy Hyser (Belvidere, Ill./Belvidere) and sophomore Sabel Moffet (Temecula, Calif./Chapparal) each added nine with sophomore Naomi Johnson (Bloomington, Minn./Kennedy) and freshman Alexandra Ayers (Playa del Rey, Calif./Marymount) recording seven. Junior Kate Nobilio (Johnsburg, Ill./Johnsburg) had a solid outing with 18 digs while sophomore Elyse Glab (Chicago, Ill./Resurrection) added 10 with 37 assists.
Northwestern will take the court at the Gentile Center on the campus of Loyola Chicago at 7 p.m. Saturday to face host Ramblers in the Challenge championship. Loyola rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat DePaul 3-2 in the second game of the challenge, pitting the Blue Demons against UIC in the consolation match at 4:30 p.m.