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Volleyball returns from hiatus against No. 11 Purdue

The Wildcats fell to a tough opponent this weekend.

After a postponement against Nebraska on Jan. 29 caused a pause of team activities out of an abundance of caution for Northwestern volleyball, the team returned to the court this past weekend. The pause resulted in the postponement of three two-game series, including a home matchup with Michigan and a split series with Illinois. Finally back on track, the Wildcats got to square off against No. 11 Purdue in West Lafayette for two games.

While sweeping their first match in a two-game set against Rutgers back on Jan. 22-23, the 11th-ranked Boilermakers proved to be a tough match for Northwestern, bringing their season record to 2-2.

The ‘Cats put up a good fight against Purdue in the first game on Friday, coming close in the first set 25-20, but eventually dropped this set and the next two to end 0-3. Sophomore outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara had a standout game with 10 kills, 31 attacks and three blocks. Junior setter Kiara McNulty had 20 assists which brought her to a total of 79 assists this season, in only three matches.

The second game followed on Saturday, and the ‘Cats were able to get one set off of Purdue, winning the second 25-22. They forced a fourth set as a result, but the match ended in Purdue’s favor, 1-4. Northwestern was aggressive on the defensive side. In the first and fourth sets, the Wildcats fought hard, coming within seven and six points, respectively.

Thomas-Ailara had another strong showing with 18 kills for a match-high and one ace hit. This game was a team effort with four ‘Cats making up the stat sheet. Among them was Sophomore libero Charlotte Cronister. The Chicago native had a career-high 12 digs against the Boilermakers. After having 20 assists during the first game of the weekend, McNulty had 27 assists in the second game. Redshirt sophomore Abryanna Cannon added 13 kills after recording eight in the previous game.

The ‘Cats will look to get back on track at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday, Feb. 26 for another weekend two-game set against the Iowa Hawkeyes.