With 3-1 win Saturday against Big Ten opponent Indiana, Northwestern continued its up-and-down season and brought its record to a fitting 10-13 (5-7 B1G).
The last four games have seen the team bounce back and forth between wins and losses. This began with an October 20 matchup against the Illinois Fighting Illini in which the ‘Cats brought the heat by taking the first set 25-20. Unfortunately, their energy dwindled as the match progressed, and they fell to the Illini in each of the next three sets. For the Wildcats, Temi Thomas-Ailara led the team with 17 kills, nine digs, two aces and one block. The game’s stats show the teams as relatively similar overall, but the Illini dominated in blocks, earning 13 points next to Northwestern’s three.
The Wildcats’ fate seemed to change as they took on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Welsh-Ryan Arena, a team that they had beat 3-0 the previous week. The ‘Cats dominated the first set, winning it 25-13. The second set was more nerve-wracking, but NU managed to scrape out a 25-23 win. The third set was a bit of a setback for the home team, as they fell to the Hawkeyes the same way they had beat them in the first set: 13-25. The fourth set, however, saw Northwestern rise back up with a 25-17 win that sealed the match victory.
NU then traveled to West Lafayette, Ind. to take on No. 12 Purdue. Putting up a fight against the Boilermakers proved to be a tough test for the ‘Cats, as PU scored 60 points to Northwestern’s 40 in a 3-0 sweep.
However, the ‘Cats were able to score a 3-1 road win Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Wildcats had a phenomenal first set, managing to pull out the 25-13 win. The second set was hard fought, but the ‘Cats fell to the Hoosiers 23-25. Northwestern rallied for the next set and easily won, 25-10. Then, they kept the energy up for the fourth, sealing the victory with a 25-19 set win. NU dominated the stats, ending up with 75 points next to the Hoosiers’ 41. Northwestern also had 58 kills, 8 aces, 9 blocks, 52 assists and 69 digs, topping IU in all said scoring categories. Thomas-Ailara also led the team with 19 kills, 3 aces and 13 digs.
The Wildcats’ performance has fluctuated quite a bit this season, as they’ve never won or lost more than twice in a row during their slate of conference games. In order to get even — or even reach a winning record — in the final month of regular season play, the Wildcats must streamline their play and become more consistent on the court. They’ll face a tough test in moving up from the 10th spot in the Big Ten standings that they currently occupy, as they will face conference leader No. 3 Wisconsin twice in the next two weeks with two games against Indiana and Ohio State in between.