By Tim Foley, news staff

Two consecutive wins boosted the confidence of the Northeastern University women’s volleyball team, as the Huskies defeated James Madison University (JMU) and the University of Delaware. The women fell to Towson University on Sunday, but the performance earlier in the weekend was enough to keep playoff hopes alive.

It was a special weekend for senior outside hitter Cherylain Dizon, who played in her final home games for the Huskies (6-23, 3-11 CAA).

The success started on Thursday, when Dizon came up strong with eight kills to help the Huskies upset JMU.

“Considering the struggles that we’ve gone through with the injuries and where we’re at, I’m absolutely thrilled with the win,” Head Coach Ken Nichols said.

The Huskies trailed 2-1 heading into the fourth set but fought their way back. Dizon had three kills late in the fourth, and junior setter Jamie Bredahl had a kill and two service aces. Northeastern scored seven of the last eight points to take the set.

In the fifth frame, the Huskies were trailing by a point when Nichols called a timeout.

“We were able to hold onto the ball and run off six-straight points,” Nichols said. “That’s something that we haven’t really been able to do. That’s something that good teams don’t usually give you an opportunity to do.”

The Huskies proved they could compete, taking down JMU in five sets and carrying that momentum into Saturday’s game against Delaware.

For Senior Day, Dizon was honored before the game.

“To be honest, the pre-game ceremony was all a blur for me,” Dizon said in an email to The News. “My adrenaline had me so focused and excited about beating Delaware, I just wanted to get into the game. My dad and my sister flew out to come see me, which also fired me up on the court.”

The Huskies battled back and forth with the Fightin’ Blue Hens for most of the first but scored six in a row to take the set 25-20. Sophomore outside hitter Brigitte Burcescu and junior middle blocker Caterina Rosander combined to generate five of those six points. Despite dropping the third, the Huskies remained confident and were able to wrap the match up in the fourth.

After a nine-game losing streak that lasted the entire month of October, the Huskies were gaining some steam, and Nichols said the upset of JMU gave the team a confidence boost.

“The win on Thursday was critical,” Nichols said. “Tough matches prepare you for tough matches, but sometimes winning can prepare you to win too.”

Saturday was proof of that, as the Huskies had three players with double digit kills, including Rosander, who led the team with a season-high 15. Rosander posted a .682 hitting percentage.

“Caterina has done some things like this over the years, where she really just finds the matchup that she can blossom with,” Nichols said. “She’s very humble about it.”

Coming off the win against Delaware, the Huskies needed to recuperate quickly for a game on Sunday afternoon against Towson, and fatigue appeared to play a factor.

Despite winning the second set and fighting in the third, Northeastern ended up losing in four sets.

Sunday’s home game was the last for Dizon, a senior biology major who transferred from Riverside City College in California as a junior.

“For a second, it hit me that this was my last time playing an official match on Solomon Court at Cabot Center, which made me a little sad,” Dizon said. “But I got back into game mode and look forward to playing [the College of] William & Mary and Elon [University] this weekend.”

If the Huskies win both of those games, they can still manage to slip into the postseason. With the pressure on, leaders like Dizon will play a huge role.

“I’ve loved coaching [Dizon],” Nichols said. “She’s such an even-tempered young woman and her teammates love her.”
Photo by Brian Bae