Volleyball moves closer to playoffs

By Tim Foley, news staff

The Northeastern women’s volleyball team took another step toward the postseason this weekend, securing two home wins against the College of Charleston and the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).

Friday’s match against Charleston was a chance for redemption for the Huskies (20-7, 10-3 CAA), who lost in straight sets the last time the two teams faced.

“We played much better,” said Ken Nichols, head coach of Northeastern. “We just could not get going last time. We struggled across the board. We ironed out some of the kinks in the game plan.”

Tied at 21 in the first, the Huskies won three straight points. A kill from senior outside hitter Hannah Fry ended the set, 25-22.  

But the Cougars (15-9, 8-4 CAA) fought back in the second. The Charleston women pulled ahead early and maintained the lead to win 25-17.

Late in the third, the Huskies found themselves in a battle, with the score knotted at 22. But kills from junior middle blocker Carmen Costa and senior setter Jamie Bredahl helped the women pull out the set 25-22.

Costa landed nine kills against Charleston, hitting .500.

“Carmen’s a phenomenal player,” Nichols said. “We have more than a few people on the bench who are equally capable of going out there and making an impact. I have total confidence in any one of them, and Carmen’s the best example.”

The fourth set was also close, but the Huskies were able to maintain enough of a cushion to win by the same margin as in the third and seal the match.

Northeastern rode that momentum into Sunday’s match against UNCW. The Huskies took control right away and never let the Seahawks (14-10, 4-8 CAA) come too close for comfort.

“Last time we played UNCW the numbers were really close,” Nichols said. “I think in the three sets that we won [Sunday], we ran up a significant lead each time. We wanted to be a little more combative and a lot less complacent with a lead. And I definitely saw that on the court.”

After winning the first two sets, the Huskies were able to establish a solid advantage again in the third. Back-to-back kills from outside hitter Brigitte Burcescu brought the score to 15-11. The Seahawks were plagued with errors in that frame and Northeastern capitalized.

Burcescu was a big part of that. She followed her season-high 15-kill performance against Charleston by landing 10 against UNCW. Still recovering from a lower body injury, the junior is starting to contact the ball the way she wants to again, said Nichols.

“The rigors of our schedule have been a bit challenging,” the coach said. “We’ve had to bring [Burcescu] back slowly, but these last three matches she’s been pretty lights out.”

The Huskies won the third frame 25-17 to complete the sweep. Sitting atop the CAA standings with three games left, the team seems destined for the postseason.

“The character on this team has been the best in my 25 years of coaching,” Nichols said. “We’re not really paying attention to the tournament yet. We have to try to stay in the moment, and try to make the next point.”

Northeastern will wrap up the season with three road matches. The women will take on the University of Delaware Friday at 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics

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