Northwestern’s young talent shows promise in loss to Nebraska

By Matthew Coronado

The Wildcats headed into Bob Devaney Sports Center on Sunday with the hopes of toppling the No. 3 Nebraska Cornhuskers from their top spot in the Big Ten standings. The Huskers were a perfect 7-0 in conference matches, with only one blemish on their record – a loss to No. 9 Stanford. 

The first set was a back and forth battle that saw the score tied 10 times. Neither team was able to gain a significant edge with the largest lead only ever being three. After first-year Kathryn Randorf was able to convert on a kill to knot the game at 23, Nebraska took control and scored two straight points to seal the set. Whitney Lauenstein and Madi Kubik were credited with the final two points respectively and were the team leaders in kills by the end of the match. 

The second and third sets showcased the dominance of Nebraska’s balanced attack and stellar defense. In neither game did Northwestern grab a lead past the first couple points. The Huskers spread the ball around all night, and five players – Lauenstein, Kubik, Bekka Allick, Ally Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause – had at least six kills. Kubik also led the team in digs with 12. The second set ended 25-16 and the final set 25-18. Northwestern lost the match in straight sets (25-23, 25-16, 25-18).

On Northwestern’s side, first year setter Sienna Noordermeer got her second collegiate start after stepping into the role in place of junior Alexa Rousseau against Maryland. Noordermeer tallied 31 assists in this match topping her 30 from two nights before. She also upped her dig total from 6 against Maryland to 11 in this game. The Los Angeles native was the 51st ranked recruit in 2022 according to Prep Volleyball and was named to the AVCA All-American Best and Brightest First Team. 

Noordemeer and Randorf displayed great chemistry all night, and Randorf led Northwestern in kills for the first time since late August. The first-year connection will be one to watch as Northwestern heads into their next match against Rutgers on Friday. 

Former Cornhusker Megan Miller had 13 digs in her return to Bob Devaney. Elle Stinson and Noordermeer also had double digit dig games for the ‘Cats. It was an off night for senior outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailara who only had 8 kills on a .162 attacking percentage. Leilani Dodson was another bright spot for the offense, totaling 8 kills on an efficient 14 attempts. 

Northwestern’s schedule offers some hope to get things back on track as last place Rutgers is on deck for the ‘Cats Friday and then Maryland the night after in College Park.

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