By Tim Foley, news staff
The Northeastern University (NU) volleyball team started off the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) season, splitting a pair of weekend matches against the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and the College of Charleston.
The Huskies (11-5, 1-1 CAA) had to overcome a number of obstacles just to get to the game against UNCW Friday.
“We got delayed and were stranded in Charlotte,” head coach Ken Nichols said. “We had to take a bus and got into Wilmington at 4 a.m.”
Though the Northeastern women were not well rested, they were able to stay neck and neck early against the Seahawks (11-3, 1-1 CAA).
Freshman middle blocker Shaina White served an ace and landed two kills early to keep the Huskies in the set. But despite a 19-17 lead for the Huskies, UNCW put together a 9-0 run to take the first.
“We got stuck in the rotation we were having the most trouble with, and they had their best server in,” Nichols said. “She rattled off eight good ones.”
The Huskies didn’t look to be dwelling on the first set, winning the second 25-22, thanks in part to three kills and a block by senior middle blocker Caterina Rosander.
“We went right back to work,” Nichols said. “The next three sets were close but we had a substantial lead in two of them.”
Northeastern pulled out the third and then built a solid lead in the fourth, completing a 3-1 victory.
Rosander totaled a season-high seven blocks in the CAA opener.
“I was very impressed with Caterina this weekend,” Nichols said. “We spent a lot of time on blocking the last few weeks. She’s had some great matches and set the tempo for the rest of the team.”
Against the College of Charleston, the Huskies struggled to break through, playing from behind through the first set.
“We were running on fumes and adrenaline against UNCW,” Nichols said, “And like the college student who stays up for two exams and doesn’t do as well on the second, it caught up to us and we were not ourselves on Sunday.”
After dropping the first frame 25-14, the Huskies looked to be getting the better of the Cougars (9-5, 2-0 CAA), building a 4-0 lead in the second. But Charleston strung together six in a row to come back, and the Northeastern women found themselves in a battle.
With the score tied at 21, three consecutive kills from the Cougars helped them to pull away. They won the set 25-22.
The third set looked similar as Charleston was plagued by errors and fell behind, only to then erase the deficit. The Cougars won the set 25-19 to complete the sweep.
The Huskies have played 16 matches in the last 31 days, and their heavy schedule seemed to finally take its toll against Charleston. The loss ended Northeastern’s eight-game winning streak.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the performance of this team over those 31 days,” Nichols said. “The team has definitely exceeded expectations. Now we get to return home and hopefully we can rest and relax and relieve stress.”
The Huskies will play the next six games in the Cabot center, starting with a match against the College of William & Mary on Friday at 7 p.m.
The CAA has been incredibly competitive this season, as six of the nine teams in the conference already have at least 10 wins, and six teams have also already recorded an in-conference win.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever seen a season this tight in conference,” Nichols said. “I’m glad that we seem to be very comfortably in the mix. But every night is going to be an absolute war.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.