By Tim Foley, news staff
A trip to the West Coast for the Long Beach State/UC Irvine Mizuno Invitational ended with three losses for the Northeastern University (NU) women’s volleyball team.
“As expected, there was a spectrum amongst the three teams,” Northeastern head coach Ken Nichols said. “And it was all going to be on the high end.”
The Huskies were coming in hot after a 3-1 performance at the Florida Atlantic Invitational, but they struggled early against Washington State University as the Cougars pulled away to take the first set 25-18.
Attack errors plagued the Huskies in the second set, and they lost by the same margin as they did in the first.
“Washington State was the best team we played this weekend,” Nichols said. “We tried to make some adjustments and struggled to find any kind of terminal ability.”
Washington State took eight of the last nine points in the third to win 25-16, completing the sweep of the Huskies.
Freshman outside hitter Amy Underdown led Northeastern with 12 kills, but the offense had trouble overall. The Washington State front line dominated with 16 blocks.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if [Washington State] finished in the top 10 in blocks in the country this year,” Nichols said.
The Huskies then traveled to take on the hosting UC Irvine Anteaters in a match at 10 p.m. on Sept. 2.
When the hosts reeled off six consecutive points to start off the night, NU was forced to take an early timeout.
The Huskies came back late in a 6-1 run initiated by a kill from senior setter Jamie Bredahl, but could not overcome the early deficit and dropped the first set 25-21.
What hurt the Huskies most against UC Irvine was losing Underdown to a lower body injury early in the match. After losing the second set 25-17, the Northeastern women had to rally in the third. The attack was anchored by senior outside hitter Hannah Fry, who stepped up to fill the void left by Underdown.
“If you look at Fry’s stats over the tournament, she hit about .300 for the weekend,” Nichols said. “For a pin hitter to hit .300 against that caliber of competition; it really speaks to her talent.”
The Huskies took the third set 25-19 but were unable to carry the momentum into the fourth. The Anteater attack took control, propelling the team to a 25-13 set and a 3-1 victory in the match.
Northeastern put up its best fight against the University of California on Saturday, pushing the Bears to five sets.
The Huskies lost the first set but came back in the second to edge the Bears 25-22, driven by five kills from Bredahl, who led the team with 18 in the match.
The third set was tight, and it ended up being crucial as the teams battled back and forth. The Huskies trailed early but were able to come back and take a 21-19 lead. Bredahl was stellar, landing three kills in a 5-point run.
But California scored five of the next six points, and though the Huskies were able to keep it close, the Bears eked out a 25-23 set.
The Huskies did well in the fourth frame, winning 25-21 and knotting the match at two sets apiece.
The final set was close early on, but four points in a row for California tipped the balance, and the Huskies ended up losing 15-11.
While Northeastern was not able to pull out the win, one positive takeaway was the depth of the team’s attack. Four players totaled double-digit kills for the match—and that’s with Underdown and junior outside hitter Brigitte Burcescu both out with lower body injuries.
One of the Huskies who really stepped up was middle blocker Shaina White. The freshman from Mission Viejo, California had 11 kills against California and a team-best nine against UC Irvine.
White is one of seven players on the team who are originally from California, so the bleachers were packed with Northeastern supporters during the tournament.
“I was thrilled that they all came out,” Nichols said. “We had a number of alumni at the games too.
If it’s that type of support that fuels the team, the Northeastern women should have no trouble finding more of it as they return to the Cabot Center to host this weekend’s tournament, beginning with a match against Fordham University on Friday.
photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics