After finishing the 2021 campaign 12-19, Northwestern volleyball ushers in a strong recruiting class and standout players in Temi Thomas-Ailara and Megan Miller.
The ‘Cats finished 7-13 in Big Ten play last season, which is not too shabby in one of the top, if not the top, volleyball conference. Falling in the middle to bottom of the rankings, they swept Iowa and Indiana and narrowly fell to Minnesota 2-3 early on in the season.
After garnering First Team All-Big Ten honors, Thomas-Ailara is back for her fourth year in Evanston. She tallied a staggering 492 kill points, good for fourth in the Big Ten and, in her 125 sets played, put her in second place in total points in the conference.
Unbeknownst to most, head coach Shane Davis said during the inaugural Big Ten Media days, she also played through most of the season with an injury. TLDR; watch out for Temi this season.
Megan Miller will return for her fifth season of eligibility in purple after swapping in her Nebraska uniform in 2020. She tied for first (with Thomas-Ailara and Ellee Stinson) with 125 sets played for the ‘Cats and led the team in digs, so it will be great to have the libero back as a veteran presence on the court.
Two new names to know this fall are Kathryn Randorf and Sienna Noordermeer, the first of which was a back-to-back Ohio Gatorade POY and the latter who picked NU over perennial powerhouse Nebraska.
Randorf was a top-20 recruit and a 2021 AVCA All-American, finishing her career with 1,408 kills and 394 blocks.
As well, Abryanna Cannon will return after missing the 2021 season with an injury. The outside hitter was second on the team in 2020 with 95 kills and 98 kills as well as leading the team with 15 service aces.
Finally, junior setter Alexa Rousseau returns after a stellar campaign in 2021 in which she led the team in assists with 260.
While the Big Ten’s front-runners are the NCAA national champion Wisconsin Badgers and the close-behind Nebraska Huskers, the combination of returning talent and new players should put the ‘Cats in a strong position moving into the 2022 season.
They will open up their slate on Friday at home in the Wildcats Classic, facing the University of the Pacific and UTEP. On Sep. 23, they will begin conference play against the national champion Badgers in Wisconsin.