Four games in, and Northwestern is still looking for its first conference win.
The Wildcats (9-7, 0-4 B1G) traveled to Indiana this weekend to play against #17 Purdue (9-4, 1-3 B1G) on Friday and Indiana (12-5, 1-3 B1G) on Saturday. After losing 0-3 against Purdue and 1-3 against Indiana, the Wildcats look to rebound after a tough stretch that has seen them start conference season 0-4.
The ‘Cats played competitively against the ranked Boilermakers, losing by a 18-25, 23-25 and 21-25 scoreline. Temi Thomas-Ailara, a first-year from Glenwood, scored 21 kills, greatly outnumbering the next highest scorer, Nia Robinson, who brought in seven.
Payton Chang, a graduate transfer from Southern California, took over with 34 out of the 37 assists in the game, topping Purdue’s 34 total assists.
In an even closer game on Saturday, the ‘Cats lost 1-3 to Indiana, losing 24-26, 22-25, 25-21 and 25-27 over the course of two hours and 21 minutes. Northwestern had more kills, assists and digs than the Hoosiers, but they lacked in blocking and serving. Again, Thomas-Ailara notched in a double-digit game — her 13th in a row — with 20 kills, followed by Robinson who gained 19. Alana Walker made four out of seven blocks, and Desiree Becker, a first-year from Michigan, made three.
This start to the season, while certainly not what ‘Cats fans had in mind, has brought out two budding stars: Thomas-Ailara, who leads the team in kills with a total of 243, and Chang, who leads with 494 assists. If the rest of the team plays to their potential, the Wildcats could have a stronger season than in 2018.
Northwestern will host two games this week in the Welsh-Ryan Arena, playing #13 Wisconsin (8-4, 4-0 B1G) on Wednesday with a rematch against Purdue on Saturday.