Stephanie Holthus' 24 kills set a Northwestern volleyball record for the most in a three-set match as the Wildcats dominated the Miami University RedHawks, 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-15), at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston Friday night. The 'Cats also topped South Florida earlier in the day, 3-2, to open the Wildcat Classic.
Holthus, a Burlington Central graduate, got her team off to a lightning-fast start Friday night. Looking to avoid a repeat of the sluggish open it had against USF in the first match, the lone senior scored 4 of NU's first 6 points as the home team raced out to a 6-1 lead. Miami eventually gained the lead at 12-11 and pushed it to as many as three points at 15-12. The Wildcats would not be denied, however, as they clawed back to take a 19-18 advantage on a service ace from Kayla Morin. Northwestern finally closed the first game on back-to-back kills from Holthus and Yewande Akanbi to post a 25-22 victory.
The second stanza was very much back-and-forth until the 'Cats asserted themselves in the late stages. Nursing a one-point lead, Maggie Burnham spurred a 6-0 run that put NU on top 23-17. Once again it was Northwestern's all-American outside hitter, Holthus, who put down yet another kill to end the second set.
To say Holthus had a memorable day would be an understatement. On top of her double-double performance of 24 kills and 10 digs against Miami, the team captain had 27 kills and a career-high 24 digs in the win against South Florida. She amassed 51 kills in two matches and hit .394 in NU's two wins. She hit .426, a season-high, against Miami and the 27 kills were one shy of a career-high, set previously on Nov. 18, 2012 against Michigan.
Northwestern was idle Saturday and returns to Welsh-Ryan Arena Sunday to face the IUPUI Jaguars at 1 p.m. Both schools are 2-0 in the Wildcat Classic.