Huskies volleyball takes down Stony Brook in five-set contest


Jimena Marquez

Graduate student middle blocker Nikita Mitchell jumps to intercept a hit.

Amelia Ballingall, news staff

After racking up a pair of losses at University of Charleston Oct. 15 and 16, the Northeastern University volleyball team (7-10, 4-4 CAA) came back swinging against CAA rival Stony Brook University (9-10, 4-6 CAA) in Cabot Center this weekend. The Huskies swept the two-game series, clawing their way up to fourth in the conference standings

Northeastern began its rebound with a high-energy contest Saturday, Oct. 22. After five rounds of intense back-and-forth play, the Huskies claimed victory 3-2. 

The Huskies’ starting lineup for the match consisted of senior libero Kayla Martin, senior middle blocker Nailah Jenkins, senior outside hitter Erica Staunton, graduate student outside hitter Laura Seeger, sophomore outside hitter Rafaella Lepenioti, graduate student middle blocker Nikiya Mitchell and sophomore setter Jessica Frannea.

Stony Brook started out on top, but the Huskies were quick to overtake the Seawolves, keeping the lead for the better half of the set. Northeastern started to break away after tying the Seawolves 3-3, tallying kills from senior middle blocker Anya Korbut and Seeger, leading Stony Brook into its first timeout of the match at 11-6.

Seawolves junior outside hitter Leoni Kunz, Stony Brook’s top scorer of the weekend, rallied for her team with a kill. 

Stony Brook notched one more point before a Husky block stopped its momentum. With Seeger and Staunton racking up kills on the front line, Northeastern kept its opponent at bay for a while. However, when the Seawolves gained traction with blocking efforts, the team narrowed the gap to a slim one-point margin and the Huskies called a timeout when the score read 18-17.

After the timeout, the Seawolves matched the Huskies’ efforts, tying the game at 20-20. 

The even matchup lasted to 24-24, but after a long rally at set point, the Seawolves came out victorious 26-24 in the first set. 

With both teams aiming to the edges of the court, the second set was a test of precision. 

Korbut hit the ball on the line to take the first point for the Huskies, but the score stayed tight throughout the set.

The advantage switched back and forth numerous times, with each team taking multiple turns out in front.

With Stony Brook repeatedly hitting the ball out of bounds and Jenkins and Staunton angling kills across the court, the Huskies were able to break away momentarily at 14-10. However, the Seawolves quickly pushed ahead once again.

An ace from Northeastern junior outside hitter Defne Arliel knotted up the score at 19-19. Staunton then smashed the ball over the net to vault the Huskies ahead.

Two more aces from Arliel led the Huskies to set point, and while the Seawolves snuck one more point under the wire, Northeastern took the set 25-21.

The Huskies came full force in the third set, starting with a 5-0 lead and forcing the Seawolves into an early timeout. 

With Staunton slamming the ball across the court and Korbut taking the short shot, Northeastern blasted through the set, barely giving Stony Brook time to breathe. 

The Huskies took the third set 25-9, before the Seawolves could even break double digits. 

The fourth set began with an even wider lead, the Huskies tallying 6-0 before Stony Brook scored. 

The Seawolves were able to turn it around after the crushing third set defeat, but still hit ball after ball out of bounds.

After a strong block from Korbut and junior middle blocker Marika Virthe, the Huskies were locked at 15 points. 

The Seawolves hit a hot streak, climbing up from an eight-point deficit to close in on the Huskies 15-14.

In a revival effort, Staunton and Seeger secured matching kills to take Northeastern up 17-14. 

The Seawolves kept pace with the Huskies, the two teams scoring back and forth, tying up the match right to the end of the set. 

Northeastern got two opportunities at set point, but the Seawolves surpassed the Huskies to take the fourth set 27-25.

The tiebreaking set started with yet another kill from Korbut. 

While Stony Brook had the advantage at 5-4, the moment was fleeting and the Huskies surged ahead 8-5 before the teams switched courts. 

Northeastern maintained a generous lead through the latter half of the set. 

A Mitchell kill took the team to game point 14-8, and although the Seawolves made one last fleeting effort, Seeger closed out the set for the Huskies 15-9.

During her career-high 58-assist game — and in only her second year of collegiate competition — Frannea made her 1,000th assist. Staunton, Jenkins and Martin also led the team during Saturday’s game with 20 kills, five aces and 20 digs, respectively.

In Sunday’s matchup, Northeastern only needed four sets to take down the Seawolves, finishing the day 3-1.

The Huskies are back on the road this weekend to face North Carolina A&T Saturday, Oct. 29 and Sunday, Oct. 30, both at 12 p.m.