Sept. 11, 2013
HONOLULU -- For the first time since 2006, the Northwestern Wildcats have made their way to the island of Oahu where they will take on three exciting opponents in the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Volleyball Challenge.
The 'Cats open play on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m. local time (10 p.m. CT) against another set of Wildcats from the University of Arizona. The last time that these two teams squared off on the court came on December 3, 2010 in Cedar Falls, Iowa in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern got the best of Arizona that day in four thrilling sets.
On Friday, NU will face the tournament hosts that happen to be one of the most successful programs in the sport's history, No. 10 Hawaii. The first serve in that tilt is set for 7:30 p.m. local time (12:30 a.m. CT Saturday).
This week marks the first time since 2006 that the Wildcats have visited Honolulu. During that trip head coach Keylor Chan's group fell to Stanford and the Rainbow Wahine before toppling Fairfield in the tournament finale. Hawaii defeated Northwestern in four sets, but its margin of victory in the three sets won was only a combined seven points; two of the sets took more than 30 points to decide as well.
Northwestern will face an opponent that it has not seen in 31 years in its final match late Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats will battle the Portland State Vikings on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. CT) for the first time since Nov. 5, 1981. NU was playing in the UCLA Invitational that weekend and defeated PSU, 2-0.
Northwestern used three true freshmen on the court during the Bronco Classic over the weekend. Newcomers Kayla Morin and Maddie Slater both started the first match of their respective careers at Western Michigan on Aug. 30. Setter Caleigh Ryan made her debut the following day against Oklahoma. All three of the talented youngsters started the tournament finale against Milwaukee on Aug. 31, which turned into the first win of the season for the 'Cats. The trio also started all three matches of the Wildcat Challenge with Ryan earning All-Tournament honors.
Outside hitter Stephanie Holthus continues to add to her already-crowded personal trophy case. The fourth-year player was named the tournament MVP at the Wildcat Challenge last week and for all four nonconference events the Wildcats played in last season. All told, Holthus has been named tournament MVP eight times so far as a Wildcat, having also claimed the honor three times as a sophomore - at the Utah Classic, Chicagoland Challenge and Wildcat Classic. In addition, she was named to the All-Tournament Team at the 2011 Magnolia Invitational and the 2010 Wildcat Classic.
The Wildcats will face another challenging schedule in 2013, both in and out of conference play. Ten teams on NU's schedule are ranked in this week's AVCA top 25 coaches poll. One more squad, Oklahoma, received votes in the latest edition of the poll that was released on Monday. Northwestern will play a total of 19 matches against teams either in the top 25 or receiving votes with the first of those tests coming against the (rv) Oklahoma Sooners on Aug. 31. Next up will be No. 10 Hawai'i in Honolulu on Friday night.
The Wildcats have several players amongst the top 10 in the Big Ten in various statistical categories after one weekend of play. Here's a look at the top 'Cats and where they currently rank on the conference's leaderboard:
Assists - Caleigh Ryan (1st, 12.00 per set)
Kills - Stephanie Holthus (6th, 3.92 per set)
Aces - Abbie Kraus (8th, 0.42 per set); Caroline Niedospial (9th, 0.42 per set)
Digs- Caroline Niedospial (4th, 4.12 per set)
To view the complete notes package, please download the PDF at the top of the page.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook, subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter and sign up to receive promotional text alerts for the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!