Huskies take down UNCW 3-1 in breast cancer awareness game


Elizabeth Scholl

The Huskies celebrate a point against UNCW.

Amelia Ballingall, news staff

The Northeastern University volleyball team (7-9,4-3 CAA) faced off against University of North Carolina at Wilmington, or UNCW, (3-14,1-7 CAA) on Solomon Court Oct. 8, defeating the Seahawks 3-1. The match raised awareness for breast cancer, with volunteers distributing free pink hats to spectators, the Northeastern chapter of Relay for Life selling raffle tickets by the front entrance and players sporting pink uniforms. Before the match, each Northeastern player handed a pink rose to head coach Lenika Vazquez to honor her battle with breast cancer, which she fought for nearly two years before being declared cancer-free September 2022. 

Northeastern’s starters for the match were sophomore setter Jessica Frannea, graduate student middle blocker Nikiya Mitchell, graduate student outside hitter Laura Seeger, junior outside hitter Defne Arliel, senior libero Kayla Martin, senior middle blocker Nailah Jenkins and senior outside hitter Erica Staunton. 

Arliel served to start the game, and with a fault from UNCW, the Huskies claimed the first point of the match. From there, Arliel served three more times, including an ace, before UNCW took its first timeout at 4-0.

Following the timeout, the Seahawks delivered a block to score the team’s first point of the game. Although UNCW was able to score a few redeeming points, the team struggled to recover from Northeastern’s breakaway beginning in the first set and took its second timeout at 11-4. 

After a block from Jenkins and Arliel sent the Huskies up to a formidable 14-5, UNCW was able to gain four points in a row to start to close in on Northeastern.

The two teams then scored back and forth until the end of the set. Mitchell’s third kill of the game brought the Huskies just one point away from a set win, but it was Seeger’s hit met with a failed block from UNCW that clinched the first set for the Huskies at 25-15.

The second set proved to be more of an even match. Northeastern served to start, but the ball’s placement out of bounds sent the first point to the Seahawks. That lead didn’t last long, however, as UNCW’s own failed serve tied the game up 1-1.

Alternating points kept the score tight, but a series of strong serves from Arliel, including two aces, gave the Huskies the fair lead at 11-7.

Northeastern was able to maintain this lead for the majority of the set, and when UNCW did attempt a comeback, Mitchell slammed the ball past the opposing team to thwart their efforts.

With the end of the set closing in, UNCW held off the Huskies for a while, taking the score to 24-22, and Northeastern called its first timeout of the match. 

Fresh off the timeout, Arliel finished the set with a hit that the Seahawks could not block, and the Huskies took the second set 25-22.

The third set started off in Northeastern’s favor with a kill from Jenkins, but UNCW returned it with its own kill from redshirt sophomore middle blocker Caitlyn Callahan. 

The game stayed tight at first, but once the score reached 4-4, the Huskies began to pull away with a series of kills and blocks. 

At 9-4, UNCW broke the Huskies’ hot streak to narrow Northeastern’s lead. 

The Seahawks then forged ahead to the lead at 10-9, but Seeger smashed the ball across the court to tie up the set again.

After UNCW sophomore outside hitter Alexa Brezault took the lead for her team 14-13, the Huskies called a timeout. 

The Huskies momentarily regained some momentum, evening the score 14-14, but from then on, the Seahawks had control of the court. 

At 20-14 Seahawks, the Huskies took its second and final timeout of the set. 

Though Northeastern shrunk the difference to four points apart, it was not enough, and UNCW claimed the third set 25-17. 

UNCW started on top in the fourth set, but a long rally led Northeastern to tie up the set 1-1. 

From then on, the set was fraught with faults on both sides. 

Throughout the next few minutes, Northeastern’s lead continued to grow. Jenkins made another kill, bringing the Huskies into the double digits and doubling the opponents’ score 10-5. Seeger later made her tenth kill of the night to extend the Huskies’ lead to a staggering eight points at 18-10.

At game point 24-18 for Northeastern, freshman setter Natalia Hogopian took the serve, her first time on the court in a game since the Huskies’ Sept. 10 match-up against Utah Valley University, but the Seahawks took that point and the next to close in on the Huskies 24-20.

Jenkins sealed the deal for Northeastern, slamming the ball down over the net to win the set 25-20 and the match 3-1.

The Huskies went on to defeat UNCW a second time that weekend, closing out the Seahawks 3-2 in a tight game Sunday, Oct. 9.

The next weekend, Northeastern hit the road to take on the College of Charleston (8-12, 3-4 CAA) in two games starting Oct. 15. Both games were shutouts, the Cougars defeating the Huskies 3-0.

Northeastern returns to home court this weekend to face Stony Brook University (8-9,3-5 CAA) Oct. 22 and 23, both at 2 p.m.