Women’s volleyball sweeps Rhode Island in home-and-home series this weekend


Mihiro Shimano

NU takes home both wins in home-and-home series against URI, and played their first home game of the season Friday.

Mihiro Shimano, sports editor

The Northeastern women’s volleyball team (2-1) took home a 3-1 win (22-25, 25-22, 25-14, 25-23) against University of Rhode Island (1-3) Friday, in their first home game in Solomon Court, followed by another 3-1 win (23-25, 25-18, 25-16, 26-24) Saturday afternoon. 

Despite a challenging start to the season, including two game cancellations and a loss for their first game of the season to Boston College, the Huskies swept the Rams this weekend, both games in the fourth set. 


The Huskies win their first home game of the season

Despite a slower start in the first set, they dominated the last three, winning the fourth by 25-23. 

“It feels amazing,” said head coach Lenika Vazquez in a post-game interview. “I think that the team did a very good job of making adjustments, in play, defensively.”

Despite it being only her second college-career game, freshman outside hitter Defne Arliel hit .256 with 15 kills and five blocks, following tight in the footsteps of sophomore outside hitter Erica Staunton, who also hit .256 with just one more —16 kills and five blocks. Sophomore libero Kayla Martin also secured a career-high 19 digs during the game. 

The Huskies and Rams were shoulder-to-shoulder in the first set, getting a feel for one another’s plays. The game started off with a lead by several kills from senior Gabrielle Tschannen, sophomore middle blocker Nailah Jenkins and Arliel. Without too much momentum, both teams climbed up the point ladder until a good rally, which gave the Huskies a 19-18 lead. The last few points were contested between NU and URI, during which both called timeouts. Although the front row showed some good blocks, the Huskies were unable to catch up, dropping the first set 22-25. 

From the beginning of the second set, the Huskies began to pick up their pace, starting off the set strong with multiple kills by junior outside hitter Brianna Daphnis as well as Jenkins, who continuously tapped the ball over the net. Good setups by sophomore setter Liz Carroll also allowed for Staunton and Arliel to attack more viciously. The defense against URI was strong, with multiple blocks from the front row.

Jenkins and Carroll teamed up for a strong defense during a lengthy rally blocking two hits, and a third from a solo block by Jenkins won the Huskies the point, 17-16, forcing URI into a timeout. With the two teams continuing to climb one point after the other, the Huskies gained momentum in the last few with a 3-0 scoring run. A serve by Martin led to an attack error by URI, giving NU that extra point to secure their win for the second set, 25-22.

With the ball rolling, the team opened the third set with a game-high 7-0 scoring run, ending it with an ace by freshman defensive specialist Maddie Donaphon. However, after URI got their serve back, they also continued to attack harshly, giving them a 5-0 scoring run, closing the gap between them. The back-to-back scoring continued once more after a Northeastern timeout, where several kills from Jenkins, Staunton, Daphnis and freshman middle blocker Marika Virthe gave the Huskies a 6-0 scoring run. A final block assist by Arliel and Jenkins cemented the win, 25-14. 

This third set, filled with continuous scoring also demonstrated both a more coherent defense on the Huskies side, as well as a more out-there attack, as NU hit almost double of URI, with .233 with 39 kills and .103 with 29 kills respectively. Staunton and Arliel came off, leading the Huskies attack, sending in straight kills to the Rams court from assisting setups by Carroll. 

The fourth set was, once again, played much tighter as point after point was placed by both teams, as a win in this set for the Huskies would allow them to take home the win. Staunton stepped in as she scored several kills for the team alongside Arliel and Jenkins. In the last minutes of the game, Northeastern took two timeouts to recollect before convening on the court for their last few attacks. An ace by Donaphon and a bad set by URI gave the Huskies the last two points, giving them a 25-23 win. 

“[URI] did a good job of using our block, on occasion, so us making the adjustments to still defend the ball was huge for us,” Vazquez said. “I think it shows the character of the Huskies. We were not going to give up those two points. We wanted to finish it then, we decided to finish it, and I think that’s huge, not having to take the team into a fifth set.”

Overall, the team played a different game than the one last weekend against Boston College but showed their ability to play a diverse field of teams, which will be crucial in a season riddled with cancellations and postponements. 


Another win, this time on the road, for the Huskies

NU secured another win today against URI, changing pace starting their second set, which led them to a win by the fourth set. 

“It felt really good, we played some clean volleyball today and had a good time,” said head coach Lenika Vazquez in a post-game interview. 

Saturday’s game mirrored Friday’s game, starting off the first set shoulder-to-shoulder with the Rams. There were few scoring runs, and the Huskies held back on their attack slightly, only attacking 43 and hitting .186 in comparison to URI’s 50 and .200. However, there was strong defense as several attack errors were made by URI, which was blocked by the front row including Staunton, Daphnis, Virthe and Jenkins. With an attack error and a block by Jenkins, URI took a timeout at 23-23, and when they came back, they finished the set off 23-25. 

A major shift in the second set defined the rest of the game for the Huskies. 

“A major difference between the last three sets and the first is that we were blocking a lot of balls,” Vazquez said. “And to the point where in the fourth set, they started tipping at us and we were just picking up balls and running it back at them so we were really diligent on defense, and it helped us get that win today.”

Both teams battled one another in the first few points of the game with several scoring runs and kills eventually bringing the score to a tie at 12-12. However, the Huskies began their attack as they took back the serve, cementing a 6-0 scoring run with Shupe’s service ace putting them at 23-17. The final points were put in by Staunton as she finished off the set strong with an ace, 25-18. 

After winning the previous set, the Huskies showed much more confidence in their ability to play the game to their advantage. After the initial points, the Huskies set up their defense, leading URI to make several attack errors. Those errors combined with strong defensive blocks from Jenkins brought the Huskies up from a narrow 7-5 to 12-6 in a matter of minutes, forcing URI to take a timeout. NU continued to dominate in the second half of the set, and a setup from Shupe followed by a kill from Arliel won them their third set, 25-16. 

The Rams more closely followed the Huskies in the last set, giving them a tougher time with the possibility that they could go into a fifth set if the Rams took over this set. They were neck-and-neck most of the set, but a kill by Staunton brought them the first match point at 24-23. Two kills from Arliel brought the Huskies the victory in the end, ending the set a close 26-24, winning the game 3-1. 

Jenkin’s blocks were particularly notable, recording a career-high, eight blocks this game and three solo blocks. Martin also recorded a career-high with 25 digs. Staunton, as per usual, led the leadership board with 18 kills, achieving a season-high hit percentage (.319), and Arliel showed her first career double-double with 13 kills and 13 digs as well. 

The Huskies will play on home court again next week Thursday at 8 p.m. against non-conference opponent Merrimack before matching up with CAA opponents starting March.