Volleyball: Huskies begin season with tournament accolades despite going 2-4

By Jewel Della Valle

The Northeastern volleyball team had a busy beginning to their season last week, playing six games in nine days at tournaments on opposite ends of the country.

Northeastern was swept in three matches at the Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz., dropping three straight games (24-30, 26-30, 21-30) to west coast power-house Arizona State to open the tournament.

Senior co-captain Ashley Reeves, returned to her home state, and faced off with a familiar opponent – her sister Nina, an outside hitter for the Sun Devils. Reeves said it was “nothing new” since the two played together in high school and against each other in club play.

Northeastern played a double-header the next day against Loyola Marymount and Utah Valley State. While the Huskies lost 0-3 against Loyola Marymount (25-30, 21-30, 12-30), they were competitive against the Utah Valley State Wolverines and played a full five-game match (29-31, 30-20, 26-30, 30-27, 10-15), losing 2-3.

Northeastern had five players with double-digit kills against the Wolverines, with 66 kills, 61 assists and 116 digs.

Reeves was named to the Sun Devil Classic All-Tournament team. In three games, she led Northeastern with 27 kills, a .301 attacking percentage and 12 blocks.

Head coach Ken Nichols said the three Arizona games, while losses, gave the team a chance to look at their offense in real play.

“[The Arizona tournament] allowed the players on the team to start to establish roles and solidify what the positions might be in the offense,” Nichols said.

Despite being swept in Arizona, the Huskies managed to turn themselves around last weekend at the URI Invitational in Kingston, R.I., winning two out of the three matches.

Senior co-captain Whitney Turner helped lift Northeastern to victories over Rhode Island and Akron in the first matches of the tournament. After losing the first game, Northeastern totaled more kills, blocks and assists than URI for the next three games to win the match (27-30, 31-29, 30-22, 30-24).

Northeastern beat Akron the following day in three games (30-23, 30-19, 30-27) with Turner totaling a match-high 13 kills and a .370 attacking percentage. Nichols said one problem the Huskies had in Arizona was lack of team chemistry which has improved dramatically since then, he said.

“It comes from time spent in a rotation,” Nichols said. “[There was] a lot more polish on our game one weekend later.”

The Huskies were swept by undefeated Pittsburgh to end the tournament on Saturday (20-30, 23-30, 27-30).

Reeves and Turner were named to the URI Invitational All-Tournament team. Turner led the team with 41 kills, while four other players had 22 or more. Reeves picked up nine blocks and 26 kills. Senior setter Ivana Pavlisin led in assists with 75. Freshman defensive specialist Leah Neubeck led the team in digs with 51.

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