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Northwestern Volleyball Announces 2017 Schedule

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern volleyball announced its 2017 schedule Thursday, featuring 12 matches against teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season, including five against squads that reached the quarterfinals.

In the second season under head coach Shane Davis, the Wildcats will match up against seven teams that finished the season in the AVCA Top-25.

Northwestern will play its first home match of 2017 on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. against Illinois. The ‘Cats will play their home games this season at historic Beardsley Gym at Evanston Township High School while Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoes a $110-plus million renovation.

NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
NU will open the season in the Sunshine State, participating in their first of four non-conference tournaments. The ‘Cats will play South Florida (19-13 in 2016), LSU (9-20), and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (9-17) in the USF Tournament, August 25-26.

This will be the first-ever matchup for the ‘Cats against South Florida and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Northwestern has faced-off against LSU five times, and NU has a 4-1 advantage in the contests.

Next, Northwestern will inch northward to the Duke Tournament in Durham, North Carolina, and will match up against South Carolina (18-12), Duke (21-9), and UNC-Wilmington (17-11), Sept. 1-2.

The ‘Cats will play South Carolina for the first time since 1981 and Duke and UNC-Wilmington for the first time since 1990. Duke’s 21-9 record from 2016 marks the best record of a non-conference opponent that Northwestern will match-up against in the slate.

The #B1GCats will return to their backyard for the DePaul Tournament in Chicago. Northwestern will face off against Milwaukee (15-13), Army (20-11), and DePaul (13-17), Sept. 8-9. The ‘Cats seek to improve their record against Milwaukee to 5-0 when the two squads meet.

Chicago’s Big Ten Team will play in their final non-conference tournament, Sept. 15-16, in Richmond, Virginia. The ‘Cats will play Seton Hall (16-16), Bowling Green (21-10), and VCU (19-14). Northwestern’s contest against Bowling Green will mark a sort of double-dip for the respective athletic departments, as the Wildcat football team will be hosting Bowling Green at Ryan Field on the same day.

BIG TEN SCHEDULE
The Wildcats will start the conference slate by traveling to nearby Purdue (19-14 in 2016) on Sept. 20 before hosting Illinois (17-14), Sept. 23, in NU’s home opener.

Northwestern will hit the road for a two-game road swing in late September, facing off against Rutgers (4-29) and Penn State (24-10), on Sept. 29 and 30. The Wildcats will seek to top Rutgers for the fourth time in as many contests since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten.

Chicago’s Big Ten Team will return home for four contests, starting with Indiana (17-16), Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. Three more Big Ten foes — Purdue, Maryland (12-20), and Ohio State (22-13) — complete the two-week homestand.

After a pair of road matches against Nebraska (31-3) — the fourth-ranked team in the nation at the end of 2016 — and Iowa (19-13), the ‘Cats return home to host Rutgers, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. Northwestern then returns back to the trail with matches against Wisconsin (28-5) and Illinois, Oct. 28 and Nov. 1, respectively.

The ‘Cats then have a de facto home-and-home with the Mitten State, hosting Michigan State (25-9), Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., then playing a pair of road contests at Michigan (24-11), Nov. 10, and then at Michigan State, Nov. 11.

NU returns home for their final three home matches, including a matchup against Minnesota (29-5), Nov. 17, who reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals in 2016. The ‘Cats finish the stretch with home matches against Wisconsin, Nov. 19, and Nebraska, Nov. 22. After the Thanksgiving holiday, Northwestern travels to finish the season at Maryland, Nov. 24.

The Wildcats have seven newcomers for the 2017 season, comprising of the 22nd-ranked recruiting class in the nation, highlighted by Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year winner outside hitter Nia Robinson. Northwestern will also return program stalwarts Symone Abbott and Taylor Tashima.

Abbott, who was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten a season ago and was a member of USA Volleyball’s Collegiate National Team-Europe, is third in Northwestern history with 3.63 kills per set in her career. Tashima, a member of the Collegiate National Team-Minneapolis program this summer, ranks fifth in Northwestern history with her 3,044 assists, needing 590 to climb to fourth on the leaderboard.