Northeastern completes first CAA series against Hofstra with a win


Jim Pierce (NU Athletics)

Northeastern swept Hofstra Sunday afternoon in second game of the home-and-home series, winning 3-1.

Mihiro Shimano, sports editor

The Northeastern women’s volleyball team (5-1, 2-0 CAA) completed their home-and-home series against Hofstra University (3-2, 0-2 CAA) tonight, winning 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-15, 25-22) in a highly-contested couple of sets. This fifth straight victory places them second in the CAA conference North. 

After their first win against Hofstra Friday for the first time since October 2017, the Huskies came into Sunday’s match with confidence, and rightfully so, as they had dominated Hofstra in the second, third and fourth sets of the last match. 

“Obviously, Hofstra has always been kind of a big rival, they’re our travel partner so we were really looking forward to this weekend, this game especially,” said sophomore defensive specialist Kayla Martin. “It was good to be at home for the first CAA game for sure, but opening CAA 2-0 is a really good start. It’s definitely given us a lot of confidence in the team, and shown us that what we’re putting into practice is paying off, so that’s really good.” 

The Huskies began the first set strong, keeping Hofstra at a distance on the scoreboard at all times. Within the first few points, they had two aces, one by freshman outside hitter Defne Arliel and one by sophomore middle blocker Nailah Jenkins. The NU attack was ferocious, as the Hofstra defense struggled to contain the ball coming straight down hits by sophomore opposite outside hitter Erica Staunton as well as junior opposite outside hitter Brianna Daphnis, freshman middle blocker Marika Virthe and Arliel. 

The Pride was riddled with errors, with six service errors for the Huskies’ three, as well as four attack errors compared to two for NU. These cost them quite a few points throughout the set, especially as two service errors brought the Huskies to close the set, 25-16. 

The quadruple threat of Arliel, Jenkins, Staunton and Virthe continued their attack right after the second set began, racking up a score of 5-1, forcing Hofstra to take a timeout. However, in a turn of events, they went on a 5-0 scoring run after the break, catching up to the Huskies 5-6. As the Pride gained momentum, the two teams slowly climbed the point ladder, trading serves back and forth. 

In this close and heated contest, which was the second half of this set, the Huskies were unable to capitalize too much on their attack, making several errors. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Zyare Abdul-Rahim cemented the final point for Hofstra, giving them the set, 22-25. 

“I said, ‘We have to control the controllables,’” said head coach Lenika Vazquez in regards to setting the tone after the second set loss. “There are some things that are within our control and we need to make sure we’re consistent with how we play and our tempo and then we would have success.” 

The Huskies were not ready to give up just yet as they headed back into the third set with new energy. From the get-go, they were able to quickly gain a lead, doubling Hofstra 8-4, 10-5 and 12-6. Hofstra narrowly saved a kill by NU, sending it over the net, but was rejected by senior setter Samantha Shupe who put it back into their court. 

Northeastern ultimately brought back the heat, searching and placing balls strategically and consistently into open spaces of Hofstra’s court. Although Hofstra did not let the Huskies get away without fighting back a little, the Huskies took home the third set, 25-15, with a block by front row duo Virthe and Staunton. 

With this being the last set that Northeastern would need to cement their win against Hofstra, the energy of both teams were matched, one fighting for victory and the other fighting for another set. A solo block by Jenkins, which started off the set, put into motion the determined mindset of the Huskies. NU led most of the set, with stellar kills by Daphnis, Staunton and an ace from Jenkins, which placed at 15-11. However, a 4-0 scoring run by Hofstra brought them back into the game for the final set. 

From there, it was a heated contest between the two teams, where neither side could afford an error in the last few points. However, Hofstra made several, an attack error, which gave the Huskies the point 21-21. A speedy smash by Jenkins, unreceived by the Prides, brought them to match point as well as an ace, bringing the set to a close in favor of the Huskies, 25-22. 

“I’m very impressed with our cohesiveness right now and our ability to have each other’s backs,” Vazquez said. “I think collectively, we’re doing a very good job in communicating the things that are important so that we can be successful.” 

Staunton earned a total of 17 kills, a regular on the leadership board, closely followed by Jenkins’ 10 kills as well as a total of five blocks and four aces, hitting .455%. Shupe also played a major role, handling most of the setting, giving her 26 assists and also hitting .571%. 

Martin, who earned a career-high 27 digs in yesterday’s game, totaled 19 digs, trailing just behind Hofstra’s senior defensive specialist Juliana Vaz with 21 digs. 

Northeastern will now look to play Delaware (1-4, 0-2 CAA) March 13 and 14 in a home-and-away series. Senior day will also take place March 14.