Northwestern (13-5, 2-4 B1G) came through with a win and a loss to a top-10 opponent last weekend. Despite a loss against Ohio State, the Wildcats showcased standout offense and defense in their fifth and sixth games of conference play. Some ‘Cats made career high numbers of digs and aces. Here’s a full breakdown of Shane Davis’ team’s last two matchups.
Friday, Oct. 7 vs. Rutgers
Northwestern beat Rutgers at home for its first conference sweep win. The ‘Cats took the first set 25-12, starting with three kills, two aces and an attack error to quickly bring the score to 5-0. First-year Averie Hernandez hit the ball past the front-row players, right out of reach of the Scarlet Knight libero for the first kill of the game. Rutgers was able to collect some kills but ultimately could not catch up to Northwestern. The first set had 16 kills from the ‘Cats and four aces, two of which were from Hernandez, her career high.
The second set started with a Rutgers kill after an NU serve, but the Wildcats came back with the next serve. Northwestern gave up no points through attack errors to Rutgers but had 18 kills. RU did manage two aces against Northwestern in the second set, but the ‘Cats pulled ahead by eight points in the middle of the set before eventually winning it 25-19.
Rutgers got the first point in the third set, the only time it led in the match, but Northwestern clinched the victory for the set and the game with a 25-22 score.
Temi Thomas-Ailara reached her second highest hitting percentage of the season at .474 and led the team with 16 kills against Rutgers. Ellee Stinson posted 22 digs, 11 more than Megan Miller, who followed. For Stinson, 22 digs was a career and match high. Leilani Dodson tallied four block assists and one solo block out of the six total blocks in the game.
Sunday, Oct. 9 at No. 6 Ohio State
The Wildcats started out in Columbus with a 25-21 first set win but ultimately were unable to win any more sets, losing the match 1-3.
Northwestern got the first point off an Ohio State serve. In a hard-fought set, the ‘Cats took the last three points after holding just a 22-21 lead to win the first frame.
Northwestern lost 25-23 in the second set, which was tied seven times before eventual Buckeye victory. In the third, the ‘Cats weren’t able to gain an advantage, dropping it 25-23. OSU won the match with a 25-15 fourth set after nine Northwestern attack errors and two aces at the end to get to 25 points.
Despite the loss, several of those in purple shined. Offensively, Alexa Rousseau had 45 assists, a match high, and was able to record a double-double with 11 digs. Hanna Lesiak also had a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs. Kathryn Randorf, Lesiak and Thomas-Ailara generated 10+ kills, with Thomas-Ailara’s 22 kills ranking second thus far in 2022. Defensively, four players had 10+ digs, including Miller — who recorded a career-best 30 digs — and Stinson, who had her second match in a row with more than 15 digs. Collectively, Northwestern accumulated a season-best 87 digs.
The ‘Cats will be back in Welsh-Ryan Arena this weekend to play host to Maryland on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. CT. The game can be watched on Big Ten Plus.