After splitting matches the past few weekends, Northwestern volleyball (12-10, 2-8 B1G) slowed its momentum this weekend, falling 3-0 to both No. 7 Nebraska and Iowa on the road.
Coming into the Friday’s match, Nebraska was a perfect 8-0 at home this season and 14-4 on the year, while Northwestern’s Big Ten record stood at just 2-6 and 12-8 overall.
In what has become a trend in recent matches, Northwestern started the first set fast and got out to an early lead, and continued to stay neck-and-neck with the top ten team until late in the set, when it was tied 19-19.
Continuing the trend, the Wildcats hung with a top-ranked team for a while but just couldn’t hold on after the strong start. Nebraska finished the set on a 6-1 run to take it 25-20.
Nebraska never looked back after gaining momentum at the end of the first set, getting out to a quick 5-0 lead in the second set. While Northwestern managed to fight back a little bit throughout the set, Nebraska controlled the pace to go up 2-0 by a score of 25-15.
By the third and final set, the top ten team showed why it garners such a rating, defeating Northwestern 25-12 to complete the sweep.
Northwestern shot .140 throughout the match after finishing the first set shooting .286. Symone Abbott (9 kills, 6 digs), Nia Robinson (7 kills, 1 ace), and Taylor Tashima (28 assists, 11 digs) paced the team, but their play wasn’t enough to overcome a Nebraska team that shot .378 and maintained its perfect home record.
Following Friday’s match in Nebraska, Northwestern traveled to Iowa to face another Big Ten foe. While the Wildcats shot a bit better (.153), and kept each set relatively close, Iowa swept Northwestern by scores of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-18, respectively.
Northwestern was up late in the first set, 19-16, but couldn’t close it out despite the play of Abbott, Lexi Pitsas (11 digs), and Tashima, whose 30 assists and 9 digs throughout the match couldn’t propel a Northwestern team that has been struggling of late to victory.
The two losses over the weekend puts Northwestern at 1-5 in the month of October after starting the season at 11-5. That being said, Northwestern’s 12 wins thus far (with 10 more games to play) is already better than the 10 wins the team earned last season.
Northwestern volleyball looks to stop its skid when it takes the court at Evanston Township High School this Wednesday against Rutgers (5-17) at 7 p.m.