Fall preview: Volleyball looking to bounce back this season

Fall preview: Volleyball looking to bounce back this season
News Staff Photo/ Dan Pagliaroli

by Nathan Vaughan, News Staff

“I think winning the CAA [Colonial Athletic Association] is the minimum accomplishment this season,” senior captain and outside hitter Caitlin Tittl of the volleyball team said. “There are no excuses this year, we have to do it.”

This year the team has set the bar high. After close calls in the last three seasons, the Huskies look to take the next step and move on to the NCAA tournament.

The vollyball team is led by seven seniors this year. Joining Tittl as captain is setter and opposite hitter Britney Brown and middle hitter Jillian Robinson. The other seniors are libero Jessica LaScola, defensive specialist Helene Servillon, outside hitter Christine Kubik and middle hitter Allison Knoff. Adding to the mix is the largest incoming class since this years seniors, with six freshman.

Last season the Huskies finished over .500 for the fourth straight season with a record of 15-12, and an 8-6 record in conference play. This record tied for the second worst record in head coach Ken Nichols’ tenure.

NU won the Madison Bingham Memorial in August and the Dartmouth Tournament in September, but could not continue this success during the remainder of the season. When the conference changed the tournament rules to include only four participants, Northeastern missed qualifying for the second time since joining the CAA in 2005.

Northeastern loses two key seniors in former captains libero Leah Neubeck and setter and opposite hitter Jessica “Jet” Tkachuk. The team looks to replace Neubeck with LaScola who proved to be capable replacement last season, posting the third highest dig-per-set mark on the team behind Nuebeck and Brown, and also tallying 11 service aces. Tkachuk’s replacement will be freshman Ina Kamenova from California, originally from Bulgaria. Kamenova led her high school team to a gold medal in the ultra competitive California Interscholastic Federation, the California state tournament.

“She is more than ready to step in and fill Jet’s shoes, and we need her to,” Nichols said of Kamenova.

Sophomore middle hitter Nicole Robinson looks to rebound strong from a leg injury in the teams 13th match against Hofstra last season. She was second in conference in blocking and third in hitting percentage at the time of the injury. Bishop had started off extremely well, getting 11 blocks in her second match against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a mere three off the team record. She tallied a total of 54 blocks in her 13 games, more than four per match. She earned an All-CAA Rookie of the Week nod for getting 16 kills and seven blocks against Dartmouth Sept. 19.

Nichols ramped up the difficulty of the team’s schedule significantly this year. The out of conference schedule includes only one home game against Connecticut on Sept. 14 and tournaments at Xavier, Seton Hall and Colorado State.

“We are going to be more competitive in conference and more exciting,” Nichols said. “Tempo is going to be faster and the defense better. You are going to see the ability to flat out wail the ball has gone up a couple of notches so every passing game should more entertaining.”

Brown led the team in kills last season and was second in sets and service aces. She looks to help bring this team back to the conference championship and beyond it.

“We have a lot of players coming back and everybody has been training extremely well over the summer. We’ve got a great incoming class of freshmen,” Brown said. “We are excited for their talent and really think they will bring a lot to the talent already on the team. I’m excited for my senior year and I know the rest of the seniors are too. I think this will be the year. We definitely have a lot of potential.”

Leave a Reply