By Tim Foley, news staff
Last weekend brought another tough loss for the Northeastern University women’s volleyball team, but Head Coach Ken Nichols and the Huskies have remained positive.
“If we were 22-4, we’d still be talking about what we’re going to do in the next match, how we’re going to find a way to win, strengths and weaknesses, ‘do your job’ kind of stuff,” Nichols said. “So the benefit of that is we’re not groveling with self-pity at this stage. We’re staying process-oriented.”
On Sunday, the Huskies took on Hofstra University on the road and lost in three sets. It was the ninth loss in a row for the Huskies (4-22, 1-10 CAA), who got off to a slow start.
“There were times in the match that Hofstra could do no wrong, and we certainly had our shortcomings,” Nichols said.
The Pride (17-9, 8-3 CAA) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and the Northeastern women struggled to generate points. Hofstra scored 15 of the last 17 points in the set to win 25-8.
“I don’t ever remember a set like that in my career here at Northeastern,” Nichols said. “We really struggled.”
Nichols added that, in the past, the Huskies improved when playing teams the a second time.
“In the previous two conference matches, we had played better the second time than we did the first, and we did that without Carmen [Costa, who missed Sunday’s game with a lower body injury],” Nichols said. “This was our first step backward in a long time.”
After the disappointing first set, the Huskies rallied in the second. Northeastern was far more terminal and took a 19-12 lead before giving up a five-point run.
Hofstra went on to win six of the last seven points and take the set 25-23.
“[Hofstra is] as capable of beating anyone as any team I’ve seen,” Nichols said. “We really felt that we played better than Hofstra in the second set, but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to win.”
With Costa already benched and junior outside hitter Hannah Fry also out with lower body injuries, Nichols only had 10 players to work with. The wear and tear from the long season, combined with the fatigue from the first two sets, played a huge factor in the team’s performance, the coach said.
“It happened at least five times, when we did everything we needed to execute to get them running around with their heads cut off, and they corrected – beyond the level that any team in conference has been able to do,” Nichols said. “And it was eerie; it was almost like the ball was possessed.”
Hofstra prevailed, 25-17, in the third frame to sweep the match.
Freshman outside hitter Laynie Whitehead lead the team with seven kills in the match. Nichols is optimistic about Whitehead’s future role on the team.
“Laynie’s been great for us when it comes to our general theme of ‘chess over checkers,’” he said. “She really has adopted the philosophy. She understands that executing game plan is a checklist.”
The Huskies will return home to take on James Madison University on Thursday at 7 p.m.
They close out the home schedule with games against the University of Delaware on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Towson University on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Photo by Brian Bae