NU Sports – NU Heads Downstate to Battle No. 7 Illinois

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern volleyball will battle in-state competitor No. 7 Illinois on Saturday night in Champaign, Illinois.

News and notes…

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: Northwestern volleyball is in the midst of its 43rd season of intercollegiate competition … The ‘Cats hit the road for the first time since September 22 with an in-state match against Illinois (Oct. 6).

WHO? WHAT!: The Wildcats are meeting up with Illinois for the 86th time in program history … The ‘Cats have not played any other program more in its 43-year history

CURRENT EVENTS: For the second-straight season, Northwestern started its season with a nonconference record of 10-2 … The ‘Cats have yet to win a conference match, but have forced extra sets in every Big Ten contest but their two against top-five foes. 

BUMP, SET, SPIKE: Sophomore Nia Robinson has been one of the most prolific scorers in the conference, as her 4.18 kills per set mark is third in the Big Ten, trailing Sherridan Atkinson (PUR) & Jacqueline Quade (ILL).

Robinson amassed a career-high tying 25 kills against Iowa (Sept. 30), tied for the most in a single match by a Big Ten player this season.

TEAM TRIVIA: Northwestern is sixth in the Big Ten in kills per set (13.26) and seventh in assists per set (12.39).

WHAT IS A ‘YOUT?’: The Northwestern squad is comprised of six first years, seven sophomores, four juniors, and no seniors. 

That means that 13 out of 17 players on the team are underclassmen (76 percent). In the Big Ten, only Michigan State (12-of-15 players) surpasses Northwestern’s clip — but the raw number of 13 are the most underclassmen on any single Big Ten roster.

RANKING RUMBLINGS: According to, Northwestern’s Class of 2022 is the 18th-best recruiting class in the nation.

IS 300 WINS A LOT? IT SEEMS LIKE A LOT: The next Wildcat win will be the 300th-career victory for NU head coach Shane Davis, between both Loyola and Northwestern.

CAN YOU DIG IT?: Local product Michelle Lee (Naperville, Ill.) owns a 3.34 digs per set clip, good for third-best in the Big Ten among rookies.

YEAH, THAT’S A BIG NUMBER: Sophomore Alana Walker posted a hitting percentage of .900 in NU’s win over Colgate on Aug. 31 … She had nine kills on 10 swings with no errors … The output was the second-best in Wildcat history, trailing only Kim Ludwig’s .917 clip against Milwaukee on Sept. 17, 1994.

DOUBLE YOUR LUCK: Five different players have posted nine double-doubles, led by Kiara McNulty’s four, most recently against Stephen F. Austin (Sept. 1).

PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM: This is the third season under head coach Shane Davis, a two-time national champion head coach while helming the men’s volleyball team at Loyola-Chicago. His .750 winning percentage with the Ramblers is the sixth-best in NCAA men’s volleyball history among coaches with five or more seasons.

Davis brought with him the leadership of associate head coach Erin Virtue and assistant coach Kevin Moore — both of whom are also in their third seasons in their role. 

HOME SWEET HOME: Northwestern will play its last four home matches at the new Welsh-Ryan Arena, starting with a 7 p.m. debut against Penn State on November 9. The Arena has undergone $110 million in renovations in order to deliver a world-class experience for student-athletes and fans alike.

In 2017 — and for the first half of the 2018 home schedule — Northwestern played its home matches at Evanston Township High School’s historic Beardsley Gym. 

BUT UNTIL THEN…: The Wildcats played their first 14 matches on the road until NU’s contest against Nebraska at historic Beardsley Gym.


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