…and the Huskies win again

By Ari Strait

A far cry from the back-to-back five game losing streaks that recently plagued the Northeastern volleyball team, the Huskies (6-10) swept through each of their last two matches, beating both the Holy Cross Crusaders (4-11) and the St. Peter’s Peahens (1-11), three games to none.

The win against the Crusaders on Tuesday marked the first time the Huskies have won consecutive matches since their August tournaments.

Freshman middle hitter Larissa Adomat, who currently leads America East in hitting percentage, finished the match with 15 kills and a .500 hitting percentage, solidifying her position atop that category. Junior setter Kristin Ursillo and sophomore middle hitter Shannon Brooker also made significant offensive contributions, with 27 assists and four service aces respectively.

Senior defensive specialist Kelly Cognac, the current America East leader in digs, led a defense that held the entire Crusader offense in check, as HC senior outside hitter Kathleen Snell led her team with just nine kills.

The Crusader team finished with a hitting percentage of just .088, and unlike the balanced Huksy attack, Holy Cross had 23 of the 24 team assists come from one player, sophomore setter Michelle Leahy.

The team’s 3-0 victory over the St. Peter’s Peahens on Solomon Court Sunday snapped the team’s losing streak, avenged last season’s defeat, and provided Head Coach Ken Nichols with his 100th career victory.

Midweek losses to Brown and Rutgers University had extended the losing streak to five, which began last weekend after three defeats at the Valparaiso Invitational.

It marked just the fifth win of the season the Huskies, who struggled to top the Peahens in the first of a three game match. They then cruised through the next two for a clean sweep.

Nichols began the match against St. Peter’s with a more defense-oriented lineup. After the Huskies got a handle on what the Peahens could do with the ball, Nichols focused on a stronger offensive game plan. He believes several of the team’s previous losses were the result of not juggling the lineup enough.

“We’re trying to find a little more offense on the outside. We’re scoring lots of points in the middle and have a tendency to get stuck in a rotation. A lot of the games we lost were because we gave up one big run and just couldn’t come back,” admitted Nichols.

However, even with the lineup adjustments, the teams traded points for nearly the entire first game. Every time one side would take an extended lead, the other would come racing back. Senior middle hitter Erin Spangler finally led the Huskies to a 30-28 victory, totaling eight kills in the first game, 16 in the match and finishing with an incredible .762 hitting percentage.

Junior outside hitter Briana Furch attributed the narrow result to the pace of the game.

“At first we played their tempo. After that we played our game, [and] we could start playing our offense. We realized we didn’t have to hit hard to score,” she said.

Cognac and sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Holland provided the defense with 14 digs each, while Adomat teamed with Spangler up front to complete the offense.

The Huskies made the second and third games look easy, taking them 30-19 and 30-11 respectively. St. Peter’s was at a clear disadvantage throughout the match, they only showed up with seven active players, compared to the Huskies’ 13.

St. Peter’s Head Coach Mikhail Sigalov, who fields a mostly international team, explained that the small team size was a combination of health concerns and travel restrictions.

“The problem was that we couldn’t get these three freshman. They couldn’t get visas, so we played with what we had. We also have two players injured, so with three setters and three outside hitters, its like playing football with three quarterbacks and three wide receivers. Last year we had a full roster and beat Northeastern,” said the St. Peter’s coach.

For Nichols, revenge came in the form of career win number 100. Nichols recorded 53 wins in three seasons at Providence College and the win on Sunday gave him his 47th as a Husky. Northeastern will take this win streak into the Crimson Classic at Harvard University Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4-5.

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