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Volleyball: ‘Cats sweep East Coast trip, go over .500 for first time in 2023

Against inferior opponents, NU cruises to three straight victories.

Northwestern Volleyball/@NUVball

After a brutal loss in Milwaukee, Northwestern shipped up to Boston to compete in the Northeastern Invitational. After two games in Boston, NU traveled south to Fairfield, Connecticut to take on the Stags. The Wildcats cruised through their weekend matchups, sweeping all nine sets. With the ‘Cats returning back to Evanston for a five-game homestand, here is a look back at what happened in Northwestern’s trip to New England.

Game One vs. Northern Colorado

In the Wildcats' first matchup of the invitational, NU jumped out to an early lead against the Bears, with back-to-back kills by Julia Sangiacomo stretching the ‘Cats’ advantage to 10-6 in the first set. However, Northern Colorado went on a 7-3 run to cut its deficit to 21-19. Despite the Bears’ best effort, the Wildcats rattled off four straight points to take the opening set, 25-19.

In the second set, Northwestern found itself trailing 8-5 early in the frame, but a 6-2 run put the ‘Cats ahead, 11-10. From there on, it was all NU in the middle set, with the Wildcats pushing their lead to 16-11 after five straight points. The Bears tried to muster a comeback, but a 4-0 run by the Wildcats put the set out of reach, and NU secured the middle set, 25-17.

In the final set of the match, Northwestern once again found itself trailing Northern Colorado early, falling behind 7-5. However, another 5-1 run by NU put the ‘Cats ahead for good, and they never looked back. The Wildcats expanded their lead to 17-11, but the Bears made a late push, bringing the game to within to at 19-17. However, Northwestern would put the game away, scoring four straight points to clinch a 25-19 set victory, and 3-0 match win.

Sangiacomo led NU with 10 kills, and Alexa Rousseau added another 31 assists. On the defensive side, Kennedy Hill led the ‘Cats with four blocks. As a team, NU had a .395 hitting percentage.

Game Two at Northeastern

In a battle of the NUs, it was the Wildcats who were the superior squad.

In the first set, both teams traded blows. Midway through the set, the ‘Cats only led 11-9, but they pulled away. Northwestern scored six straight points to extend its lead to 24-14, and a kill by Ellie Husemann gave the Wildcats a 25-15 set victory.

In the middle set, the Huskies had no chance against the ‘Cats. Northwestern went on an 11-0 run to push its opening lead all the way to 14-4. The Wildcats went on two more shorter runs, three and four points, respectively, and waltzed to an easy 25-13 set victory.

The third set continued the trend of the matchup, with a long Wildcats’ scoring run being the difference maker. Leading 7-6, Northwestern ripped off seven straight points, highlighted by three kills from Kathryn Randorf, to open its lead to 14-6. The Huskies could not make a comeback, and the Wildcats took the set 25-14, completing their second sweep of the weekend.

Sangiacomo and Randorf combined for 21 kills, and Rosseau tallied another 33 assists. Husemann and Maddy Chinn added 10 blocks on the defensive end. The Wildcats only had five attacking errors all game and posted a .536 hitting percentage.

Game Three at Fairfield

In its final game of the weekend, NU traveled down I-95 to Connecticut to take on the Fairfield Stags.

In the opening set, the Wildcats found themselves behind 11-9; however, Northwestern got scorching hot and never looked back. The ‘Cats went on a 14-4 run, with the trio of Sangiacomo, Randorf and Hill raining spikes down, to give NU the 23-15 lead. Chinn topped the set off with a kill to deliver NU the opening set victory, 25-15.

The Wildcats stayed ablaze in the second set, jumping out to a 14-6 lead, with two aces from Rousseau starting the rally and two straight blocks from Randorf and Hill. Fairfield had no answers for Northwestern, as NU took the set, 25-15.

In the final set, NU once again put the frame away before it even started. The Wildcats sprung out to a 12-6 advantage and followed it up with another five-point run to stretch the lead to 18-9, making the game out of reach for any Stags comeback. One last block from Hill and Rylan Reid ended the match with a 25-13 set victory, and NU’s third sweep of the weekend.

Sangiacomo once again paced Northwestern with 14 kills. Hill added eight kills of her own, as well as four blocks. As a team, NU had a hitting percentage of .411.

Northwestern returns to action on Wednesday night, taking on UIC in Evanston at 7 p.m. CT.