By Tim Foley, news staff
The Northeastern University women’s volleyball team wrapped up its season last weekend with losses to the College of William & Mary and Elon University. Even though the season is over, morale remains high for the Huskies (6-25, 3-13 CAA).
“I’ve got a bunch of athletes that love to win, but that’s not the only thing they’re trying to do out there,” Head Coach Ken Nichols said. “Every day the team comes into the gym saying ‘thank you’ and appreciating the coaching and being positive to me about the feedback.”
The Huskies needed to beat William & Mary on the road on Friday to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Northeastern gave up an early lead and looked shaky in the first set but rebounded in the second. The Tribe (10-19, 4-12 CAA) ran off seven points in a row, but two kills from junior setter Jamie Bredahl got the Huskies back on their feet, tying the score at 23. Northeastern scored the next two, winning the frame 25-23.
In the third, the Huskies lost 25-20, but they went on to put up a strong battle in the fourth. Sophomore middle blocker Carmen Costa, who had been battling a lower body injury, was able to come in and contribute in the final set.
“Taylor [Reiter, who has also dealt with an injury for much of the season] just couldn’t stay out there anymore,” Nichols said. “Carmen’s not ready to play, but the two of them tried to pool their resources and give me one middle out of the two of them. I give them both credit for playing in pain.”
Costa contributed four kills in the set, helping the Huskies stay alive as the two teams battled on past 25. Northeastern held a 32-31 lead but gave up the next three points and lost the match.
Sophomore outside hitter Brigitte Burcescu came up big in the fourth, registering five of her 19 kills. Burcescu led the team in kills for the match.
“Right after that sophomore year – especially in the spring – there tends to be a metamorphosis,” Nichols said. “Most kids start to realize, ‘Hey, I’ve just got a year and a half left here – we’re a fall sport – and I know I can do this at this level. I know my team has needed me in the past but now I’m the mature, experienced, go-to player.’ And I think [Burcescu] will blossom in that role.”
With the loss to William & Mary, Sunday’s game at Elon had no bearing on Northeastern’s playoff chances, but that didn’t seem to matter to the Huskies. Nichols said he was impressed with the team’s effort and enthusiasm on the court.
“They played exceptionally hard,” he said. “It’s just indicative of what this team stands for. They could just let the set go, they could just let the match go. I’ve got some kids that can barely move, and they’re out there just playing absolutely as hard as they can.”
The Huskies battled to within two points in two of the sets but wound up getting swept by the Phoenix (7-23, 3-13 CAA).
“Every coach wants to win matches,” Nichols said. “But sometimes we have to understand that it’s more important to teach [the players] to care about what they do and about each other, and learn how to fight when things are tough.”
Nichols added that he has never been so impressed with a team’s commitment and work ethic. As for next season, he said preparation has already begun.
“Jamie [Bredahl] texted me yesterday and she said, ‘Yep, we’ve been talking with the guys down [in the weight room] and we’ve set up five days a week,’” Nichols said. “That’s what they want to do. I’ve never had a team ask for five days a week, and they did that on their own.”
Photo by Brian Bae.