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Volleyball’s three new additions look to fill holes left by key departures

Some big shoes to fill.

Northwestern Athletics/John Konstantaras

As Northwestern closes out its spring season today at Loyola, the Wildcats will look quite different when they next step in Welsh-Ryan Arena. Following the 2022 season, NU said goodbye to many key figures that helped lead the ‘Cats to their best season under head coach Shane Davis: Megan Miller, Desiree Becker, Hanna Lesiak and Temi Thomas-Ailara. TTA, a two-time All-American at Northwestern, departs Evanston to head north to Madison, suiting up for the rival Wisconsin Badgers for her graduate season. In an attempt to reload the roster, Coach Davis signed brought in a trio of graduate transfers to complement the ‘Cats’ talented young core. Let’s meet them and take a quick look at how they can help NU continue on the right trajectory.

Maddy Chinn

Chinn comes to Northwestern after spending four years in West Lafayette, donning the black and gold for the Boilermakers. An outside hitter, Chinn’s 6-foot-3 height makes her a weapon for setters Alexa Rousseau and Sienna Noordermeer to deliver the ball to. In her senior season, Chinn racked up a career-high 133 kills — including four double-digit kill games.

With three of Northwestern’s top five leaders in kills leaving the Wildcats this offseason, Chinn will have an opportunity to see the court early for the purple and white. Alongside rising sophomore Kathryn Randorf and senior Lelani Dodson, the Wildcats' newest addition will provide a veteran presence outside the court and, given the opportunity, can pummel opponents with a spike. Furthermore, the fifth year brings winning experience to a young Northwestern squad. While replacing Thomas-Ailara is impossible, Chinn is going to be an integral part of NU’s success this upcoming season.

Ellie Husemann

Husemann heads south to Evanston after spending four years in Minneapolis with the Golden Gophers. The fifth-year will command the center of the ‘Cats’ front line, stepping in as a middle blocker. Husemann has 173 rejections to her name, including 93 in her junior year.

With lead blocker Desiree Becker transferring to UCLA, the Eagan, Minnesota native has an instant role to play as the team's lead middle blocker. The 6-foot-3 Husemann will be able to match Big Ten outside hitters, as she has for the past four years at Minnesota. This was a key pickup for the Wildcats, as the fifth-year will be a staple for the ‘Cats’ defense this season, providing a veteran presence in the heart of the lineup.

Julia Sangiacomo

It was a full reload in the front court, as the outside hitter travels across the country from Santa Clara University. The fifth-year was dominant for the Broncos, earning three First-Team All-WCC honors. In her senior year, Sangiacomo racked up 475 kills — breaking into the top ten on the Broncos’ record list.

At 6-foot-5, Sangiacomo will be another tool of Coach Davis in his arsenal. She is a plug and play and will help fill a position that saw the most departures this offseason. How she will adjust to the Big Ten is still to be seen, but her potential to make an immediate impact for the Wildcats is high.