Nov. 21, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern will embark on its final road trip of the regular season this weekend as it travels to take on the second-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions and the Ohio State Buckeyes in a pair of important Big Ten battles.
Going the Distance
After becoming one of the last teams in the country to play a five-set match in 2012, Northwestern checked that off its list on opening night in 2013. This year, decisive sets were required in two of the team's first three matches after going five games only three times all of last season. With the triumph over Indiana on Sunday, the Wildcats have won six five-set matches in one season for the first time ever in the Keylor Chan era (since 2000). NU dropped only its second five-setter of the season on Nov. 2 at Nebraska.
Northwestern has stepped up its defensive effort at the net over the past three matches. In contests against Michigan, Purdue and Indiana, the Wildcats averaged 12.6 blocks per match while their opponents averaged less than eight blocks per match. Against the Wolverines on November 10, NU racked up 14 blocks in the four-set match, while U-M posted only four.
Protect This House
The Wildcats have done a good job of protecting their home court at Welsh-Ryan Arena this season. The 'Cats are 11-4 in Evanston this season with the wins coming against Columbia, Belmont, Boise State, South Florida, Miami (OH), IUPUI, Iowa, No. 17 Ohio State, (rv) Illinois, No. 18 Purdue and Indiana. Northwestern's losses have come against ranked foes - 12th-ranked Nebraska on Sept. 27, No. 4 Penn State on Oct. 20, No. 13 Michigan State on Nov. 8 and No. 17 Michigan on Nov. 10. The 'Cats have reached 11 home wins only two other times under head coach Keylor Chan, in 2010 and 2007. The school record for 17 home wins in a season belongs to the 1984 Big Ten Champion squad. In 2012, the 'Cats won just five of its 13 home matches.
|Inside Northwestern Volleyball
Wildcats Welcome Class of 2018
Northwestern signed three talented high school seniors to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, Nov. 13. Outside hitter Symone Abbott (Northville, Mich./Northville), middle blocker Garbrielle Hazen (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City) and setter Taylor Tashima (Wilmette, Ill./New Trier) all signed on the dotted line last week. Hazen and Tashima were listed prominently on PrepVolleyball.com's Top Senior Aces list, while Abbott is her school's all-time leader in kills and is regarded as one of the top players from the state of Michigan. Click here to read more about the newest 'Cats.
Scouting Penn State
2013 Record: 24-2, 15-1 Big Ten, ranked No. 2 in this week's AVCA top 25 coaches poll
Series History: Penn State leads, 45-8
Last NU win: Nov. 23, 2002 at Welsh-Ryan Arena (3-1)
Last PSU win: Oct. 20, 2013 at Welsh-Ryan Arena (3-0)
Head Coach: Russ Rose (George Williams, '75)
Top Performers: Ariel Scott, Sr. RS (3.13 kps, .286 pct., 0.94 bps); Katie Slay, Sr. MB (2.09 kps, 1.68 bps); Micha Hancock, Jr. L (10.86 aps, 63 aces, 2.04 dps).
Notable: Since dropping the first set at Michigan on November 1, the Nittany Lions have posted 18 consecutive set victories. Penn State is a combined 21-0 this year in three- and four-set matches with its lone losses on the season coming against then-No. 6 Texas (current No. 1) on September 7 and No. 15 Michigan State on September 27. Both of those contests went the maximum five sets.
Scouting Ohio State
2013 Record: 16-12, 4-12 Big Ten
Series History: Ohio State leads, 50-20
Last NU win: Oct. 16, 2013 at Welsh-Ryan Arena (3-1)
Last OSU win: Nov. 7, 2012 at St. John Arena (3-1)
Head Coach: Geoff Carlston (Minnesota, '93)
Top Performers: Kaitlyn Leary, Sr. OH (4.84 kps, 2.24 dps); Taylor Sandbothe, Fr. MB (2.44 kps, 1.00 bps); Taylor Sherwin, Jr. S (10.84 aps, 1.85 dps).
Notable: After getting off to a 12-0 start in nonconference play, its best since 2004, the Buckeyes have stumbled in Big Ten play. After winning 13 conference contests a year ago, their best mark under head coach Geoff Carlston, OSU has only four wins in 16 chances this time around. Carlston is 51-65 in Big Ten play as the bench boss for the Buckeyes.
To view the complete notes packages for NU, PSU and OSU, please download the PDFs at the top of the page.
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