Volleyball slumps early

By Ari Strait

The defending America East champion Northeastern volleyball team continued its preseason struggles over the weekend, dropping all three matches the team played during the Valparaiso Invitational in Valparaiso, Indiana.

The string of losses against Valparaiso University, Fairfield University and Jacksonville University in the two-day tournament came on the heels of a 3-1 win against Rhode Island on the 14th, the team’s only victory in the month of September. The Huskies have now lost eight out of their last nine matches, just a year removed from a season where they never lost more than two in a row.

In their Saturday afternoon match against the Dolphins of Jacksonville, freshman Larissa Adomat and senior Erin Spangler attempted to take the place of departed offensive leaders Kristin Deathreage and Gianina Pellegrini, finishing with 14 kills and 12 kills respectively. Adomat had only one error throughout the four games these two teams played, resulting in a fantastic .448 hitting percentage.

However, the tag team performance of Dolphin senior Brooke Ahrens and junior Radka Dimitrova, coupled with the assists of senior Kristin Withrow, overpowered the Husky defense and led the Dolphins to a 3-1 victory. Withrow and Dimitrova both went home with all-tournament honors, as they lead their team to victory in two out of three matches at the Invitational.

Earlier in the day, the Huskies had dropped a 3-1 decision to the Fairfield University Stags. Poor percentages crippled the Huskies’ efforts, as they had only two players finish with hitting percentages over .160, and three who finished with negative results. Serving and defense at the net proved to be strong points, as the Huskies had nine aces to the Stags’ four, and topped them again in both solo and assisted blocks.

On the offensive side of the net, Spangler and senior Jennifer Endres had 18 kills and 12 kills respectively, but couldn’t top the centralized Stag attack. Junior Laurie Brands, together with freshmen Kristin Fernandez and Casey Machon, tallied 54 of the their team’s 69 kills, and 45 of 86 digs.

Their first match of the tournament, a Friday evening match against the Valparaiso University Crusaders, was both the most intense and the most disappointing. The two teams battled for nearly two and half hours before a three point run by the Crusaders gave Valparaiso the victory. Northeastern was serving for match point with a 15-14 advantage in the fifth and final game, but couldn’t nail it down, losing the game 18-16 and the match 3-2.

Regardless of the outcome, several Huskies had statistically solid days. Four different Husky players finished with double-digit kill totals, junior setter Kristin Ursillo had 51 assists, and senior defensive specialist Kelly Cognac finished with 33 digs.

Their efforts fell short, however, as Crusader junior setter Cyndi Norman, the Crusader Classic Most Valuable Player, led her team to its first win en route to a perfect tournament performance.

The Huskies will play seven more preseason games, three of which will make up the Crimson Classic, to be played at Harvard University Oct. 4-5. The first conference matchup will be an evening game played at home on Solomon Court against preseason favorite University of New Hampshire on Oct. 8.