Huskies defeat Elon 3-1 in Hispanic Heritage Month celebration game


Jimena Marquez

Graduate student middle blocker Nikiya Mitchell leaps up to stop Elon’s hit.

Amelia Ballingall, news correspondent

The Northeastern volleyball team (5-8, 2-2 CAA) partnered with the Latinx Student Cultural Center to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month Saturday, Oct. 1. The first of this two-game series against Elon (5-10, 3-3 CAA) was celebrated with free food, t-shirts and El Jefe’s taco vouchers. Northeastern claimed the match with a score of 3-1.

The Huskies’ starting lineup consisted of senior outside hitter Erica Staunton, junior outside hitter Defne Arliel, senior captain libero Kayla Martin, senior middle blocker Nailah Jenkins, sophomore outside hitter Sahitya Krishnamurthy and junior captain libero Maddie Donaphon.

Krishnamurthy served to start the match, and Staunton kept the ball in Husky possession with a kill to give the team an early lead of 1-0.

Elon returned to bring the score up to 1-1, starting what would become a constant theme of ties for the day’s match. 

After tying at 5-5, Elon began to pull away, keeping a slim lead over the Huskies until senior middle blocker Anya Korbut was able to turn the game back in Northeastern’s favor at 14-13.

Elon took a timeout once the Huskies’ lead increased to four points. This seemed to work in Elon’s favor, as the team was able to tie up the game again at 18-18. 

Elon maintained a lead until the end of the set, when Northeastern’s Staunton tallied three kills to bring the game to a 24-24 tie. 

An ace from sophomore setter Jessica Frannea took the lead back for the Huskies, and Staunton followed up her efforts with a tap over the net to secure the first set at 26-24.

The second set proved to be just as close as the first. Staunton made the first point of the set, bringing her kill count for the day into the double digits.  Elon matched the Huskies’ efforts, keeping the team on its toes with a constant back-and-forth through a score of 8-8.

Two consecutive aces from Martin gave the Northeastern team the first two-point lead of the set, but Elon was quick to tie up the game again 11-11.

Elon called the first timeout of the set at a score of 20-20, but continued to go back and forth with the Huskies until 24-24.

A serve into the net from Krishnamurthy gave Elon back the lead, and Elon scored once more to win the set 26-24.

The third set was the first of the match that started with Elon in the lead, but a kill from Northeastern graduate student middle blocker Nikiya Mitchell tied it up at 1-1.

The Huskies maintained a slight lead until Elon upped the score to 9-9. Huskies’ Jenkins broke the tie to give them back a lead that lasted the rest of the set. 

After two Elon timeouts, the North Carolina team tried to close the gap, but the Huskies were able to widen the lead to six points and a strong hit from Staunton closed out the set at 25-19.

For a fourth and final time, the next set started with a score of 1-1. The Huskies were quick to widen the lead, bringing the score to 6-3.

Elon came back to tie the game at 12-12 and 13-13, but the Huskies were able to pull ahead again to a three-point lead. 

Elon then called its second timeout of the set, but an ace from sophomore outside hitter Rafaella Lepenioti continued to sink Elon’s hopes of winning. 

Soon after, graduate student captain and outside hitter Laura Seeger made an impressive diagonal kill across the court to bring the Huskies’ lead to 19-14. 

At 21-18, Northeastern took its first timeout of the set. 

Post-timeout, Staunton was quick to score, with her two kills in a row bringing the Huskies up 23-18. 

A fault on Northeastern’s part gave the ball back over to Elon, who scored three times, closing the gap to a slim two points. 

Northeastern took its second timeout at 24-22, one point away from a match win. 

Elon scored and took the serve again, but a strong hit from Arliel and a failed block from Elon sent the point in Northeastern’s favor to win the set 25-23.

The Huskies defeated Elon in four sets with a score of 3-1.

Northeastern took on Elon again Sunday, Oct. 2, proving the Huskies’ dominance with a second win with a score of 3-2. 

The weekend was especially strong for Martin and Staunton. In Saturday’s match, Martin tied a career-high five aces, matching her tally with a 2019 game also against Elon. Then, on Sunday, she made her 1,000th career dig, a major milestone. Staunton was powerful in both games, notching 25 kills in each, just shy of the career-high 26 she scored in the Huskies’ recent game against University of Delaware. 

The Huskies will face University of North Carolina Wilmington in Cabot Center Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.