Northwestern returns to Evanston hosting a pair of rivals at Welsh-Ryan Arena this weekend. The Wildcats face sixth-ranked Illinois on Friday, Nov. 5 before hosting Wisconsin on Saturday, Nov. 6. Opening serve for both matches is set for 7 p.m.
Scouting the Fighting Illini 2010: 20-3 overall, 12-1 Big Ten. Ranked sixth in this week's AVCA poll. Last Week: W vs. Michigan (3-2), W vs. Michigan State (3-0), W vs. Wisconsin (3-0). Head Coach: Kevin Hambly (BYU, 1995). Second season at Illinois (46-9, .852). Key Players: Colleen Ward (Jr., OH): 347 kills, .258 hitting pct., 23 service aces, 47 total blocks; Michelle Bartsch (Jr., OH): 299 kills, 12 service aces, 74 total blocks; Johannah Bangert (Sr., MB): 156 kills, .342 hitting pct., 113 total blocks; Jazmine Orozco (Fr., OH): 139 kills, 16 service aces; Hillary Haen (Sr., S): 1,015 assists, 193 digs, 18 service aces, 41 total blocks; Jennifer Bonilla (Fr., LIB): 442 digs, 19 service aces.
Scouting the Badgers 2010: 14-10 overall, 3-10 Big Ten. Last Week: W vs. Michigan State (3-0), L vs. Michigan (1-3), L at Illinois (0-3). Head Coach: Pete Waite (Ball State, 1981). 12th season at Wisconsin (270-110, .710); 23rd season overall (536-212, .717). Key Players: Allison Wack (Sr., OH): 247 kills, 28 service aces, 28 total blocks; Elise Walch (Fr., OH): 190 kills, 20 total blocks; Alexis Mitchell (So. MB): 186 kills, .312 hitting pct., 68 total blocks; Julie Mikaelsen (Fr., RS): 140 kills, 11 service aces, 33 total blocks; Janelle Gabrielsen (Jr., S): 858 assists, 96 kills, .294 hitting pct., 51 total blocks; Kim Kuzma (Sr., LIB): 406 digs, 98 assists, 15 service aces.
Northwestern and Illinois meet for the 72nd time Friday evening with the Illini holding a 45-26 advantage in the series, including a four-match winning streak. The two teams staged a classic in the rivalry back on Oct. 2 when Illinois outlasted Northwestern 3-2 in Champaign. Northwestern enters the weekend looking to snap a four-match skid against Illinois in Evanston since a 3-1 victory in 2005. Saturday also marks the 72nd meeting between Northwestern and Wisconsin with the Badgers holding a similar 45-26 advantage in the all-time series. The Wildcats have won the last two meetings between the two, including a 3-0 victory in Madison on Oct. 1, their first victory at Wisconsin's Field House since 1985.
Northwestern Continues To Receive National Recognition
For the sixth-straight week, Northwestern remains among the AVCA Division I Coaches Top-25 poll, checking in at 24th after being ranked 25th on Sept. 27, 24th on Oct. 4 and Oct. 25, 20th on Oct. 11 and 22nd on Oct. 18. The Wildcats are one of five Big Ten teams among the nation's top-25, with Illinois, Penn State, Michigan and Minnesota also making appearances. Northwestern also remains among the top-20 in the NCAA RPI index, sitting 20th in this week's edition. The Wildcats are one of five Big Ten teams in the top-20, joining Illinois (No. 2), Penn State (No. 4), Minnesota (No. 12) and Purdue (No. 17).
Moffett Notches 1,000th Career Kill
Senior Sabel Moffett continues to establish herself among the Wildcats' all-time greats. Moffett became the 19th member of the Northwestern 1,000-kill club in the fourth set against Minnesota Friday night, sitting at 1,011 for her career. A 2009 AVCA honorable mention All-American and All-Big Ten selection, Moffett, who set a single-season program record with her .349 hitting percentage in 2009, currently ranks first all-time with a career .309 attack percentage, five points better than second-place Erika Lange. Moffett also looks to move up among the Wildcats' career block leaders, currently eighth all-time in solo blocks (81), fourth in block assists (382) and sixth in total blocks (463).
When Northwestern and Illinois take to the court at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday night, there will be a handful of familiar faces on both sides of the net. Wildcat libero Julie Chin and Illini outside hitter Colleen Ward were next door neighbors in Naperville, playing together at Naperville North for three seasons. Sabel Moffett also became well acquainted with Illinois' Michelle Bartsch and Laura DeBruler as the three trained and competed together this past summer as members of the USA National A2 Team.
Experience Is The Key
One of the major factors to the Wildcats' success this season has been the amount of experience on the court for Northwestern. The 'Cats boast four players that each have over 100 matches of experience, led by setter Elyse Glab's 115 matches played. Christina Kaelin (111 matches), Naomi Johnson (108) and Sabel Moffett (106) have also eclipsed the 100-match mark, with Alex Ayers close behind with 86 matches played.
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