By Tim Foley, news staff
Northeastern University women’s volleyball took on three opponents at the Columbia Invitational over the weekend. The Huskies dropped the first two matches but rallied to win the third in four sets.
After struggling in both games on Friday, the women finished on a positive note with a victory over New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) on Saturday. The win brought the Huskies’ record to 3-9.
“We’ve always had the mindset that we want to be tested out of conference. We were up on two teams and let them back in,” Head Coach Ken Nichols said. “Going into this weekend we’re about where we want to be in terms of being tested.”
The women came out strong against host Columbia University in the first game on Friday. In the first set, the Northeastern attack generated 17 kills and took an early advantage in the match.
They carried the momentum into the second set, capitalizing on a few of Columbia’s attack errors. Northeastern jumped out to a promising 5-1 lead.
Outside hitter Brigitte Burcescu posted four kills and a block, and the Huskies took the set 25-20.
But the turning point came in the third when Columbia took control early and won the final six points to take the set 25-12.
Junior setter Jamie Bredahl added five assists, two kills and a block in the fourth set, but the Lions scored seven of the last nine points to take the set 25-21 and send it to a decisive fifth frame.
Midway through the fifth set, the Columbia women strung together four points in a row to build their lead and won the set 15-9.
Shortly after battling Columbia, the Huskies took on American University, and Nichols said fatigue played a factor in the game.
“Any time you go five sets, I think people tend to take our sport for granted when it comes to caloric expenditure,” he said. “Particularly for some positions – the setters and the middles – there’s a tremendous amount of work.”
The Huskies lost in straight sets and could only manage 15 points in two of them.
The team had its best chance to push back in the second set but gave up a 12-8 lead and trailed the rest of the way, losing 25-20.
After a night of rest, the Huskies re-took the court Saturday afternoon against NJIT.
This time, Northeastern looked sharp from the first serve. Junior outside hitter Cherylain Dizon earned the first point, landing one of her seven kills, and the Huskies built a 4-0 lead.
Northeastern won the first set, giving up only 16 points.
NJIT battled back to take the second set 25-23, coming back from a 17-13 deficit. The Huskies finished out the last two sets strong, and the Highlanders couldn’t manage more than 18 points in either frame.
Bredahl’s defensive contribution was integral, as she led the team with 17 digs.
The Colorado native also finished with a team-high 28 assists.
Burcescu punched home 14 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Carmen Costa added 10 – her first double-digit performance of the season.
Caterina Rosander was stellar on the front line as well. Rosander landed nine kills while registering a hitting percentage of .600 – her best of the season.
The junior middle hitter was error-free in the match.
“It was [Rosander’s] best match in a while,” Nichols said. “We’re running a 6-2, and for a middle to connect with both setters is always a challenge, but she matched up well and did a nice job stepping up.”
The 6-2 is a style of play in which two setters are used instead of just one. The setup allows for a full front line of hitters at all times as well as a more versatile offense.
With a week and a half until the first Colonial Athletic Association game, Northeastern will need to pick up some steam over the next week. Although NJIT holds a 2-7 record, Saturday’s win was an important confidence booster for the Huskies, who will take on Boston College in Chestnut Hill on Thursday.
“I told the team today, ‘[Boston College] will feel like conference,’” Nichols said. “The teams are constant rivals. They see us in a position where we’re younger and they are not going to back off. So it should be really good preparation for us.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.