Huskies win one, drop two as end of regular season draws near

Huskies win one, drop two as end of regular season draws near
First-year middle blocker Gabrielle Tschannen goes in for a kill against Hofstra. Photo by Scotty Schenck.

After a strong victory against the College of William & Mary Friday, Northeastern volleyball was not able to win a single set in consecutive matches, falling to Elon University and Hofstra University.

After jumping out to a 4-0 lead Friday, the Huskies (17-11, 10-5 CAA) left the door open for William & Mary to come back.

“We kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit in the first,” first-year middle blocker Gabrielle Tschannen said. “We needed to come back stronger and harder.”

But once the Tribe (5-23, 2-12 CAA) took the lead, Northeastern struggled to regain control of the set. Though the Huskies tied the score at 10, William & Mary reeled off five straight points, laying the groundwork for a 25-21 win.

“We want to make sure that we create separation, and we’re not content to be up by four points and then bleed off five,” head coach Ken Nichols said. “We want to maintain that separation. And it’s really kind of impressive and tough to do on the road — we put together three good sets after that first set.”

The Huskies immediately built momentum in the second, taking a 9-4 lead and this time holding it to take the frame, 25-16. A service ace from first-year outside hitter Athena Ardila and two late kills from fourth-year attacker Brigitte Burcescu helped propel the Northeastern women.

The third set offered more of the same firepower from the front line, which registered a combined sixteen kills. Second-year outside hitter Amy Underdown landed five kills in the set and Tschannen tacked on four of her own.

Tschannen had a career-high 14 kills with a hitting percentage of .520 in the match, adding a team-best five blocks.

“[Tschannen] has got the potential, as she develops, to be one of the most dominant middle attackers in conference,” Nichols said. “And the nice part about that is she’s already one of the most dominant blockers.”

The Huskies won the third set 25-20 and dominated in the fourth. Building a 20-9 lead, Northeastern was fueled by two service aces from third-year defensive specialist Sherrie Wang and kills from six different attackers. The 25-16 victory in the set sealed the match.  

“That was the best we ever played,” Tschannen said. “Everyone was super pumped and excited when we were getting points, and when we’re having fun — that’s when we play our best.”

Sunday’s match against Elon did not pan out as well for the Huskies. After struggling in the first set, losing 25-16, the Northeastern women fell behind immediately in the second and could not overcome the deficit, falling 25-22.

Elon’s Sydney Busa, a fourth-year outside attacker, notched 21 kills, hitting .452 for the match. Nichols listed this as one of the primary reasons for Northeastern’s loss, along with service game.

“We were a little timid from the service line. It’s not timidity — that’s not it — it’s just the slightest degree of caution,” the coach added. “We can’t win big matches being a little bit careful — we’ve got to be reckless and dangerous and confident and aggressive.”

The Huskies fell 25-22 in the third, as the Phoenix (16-13, 5-9 CAA) completed the sweep. Despite the loss, Underdown came out of the match with 20 kills, which accounted for almost half of the balls the Huskies put down on Sunday.

“[Underdown] is such an amazing player,” Tschannen said. “She always brings the energy and competes with the energy we need. She’s not afraid to make errors and get the kills we need.”

On Wednesday against Hofstra, the Huskies were able to put up two very competitive frames, but couldn’t pull ahead in either of them, losing again in straight sets. The Pride (17-12, 9-6 CAA) took a solid lead in the first, but the Huskies came back to even the score at 24. Hofstra’s front line took over at that point, landing two kills to end the set.

“Hofstra is the team in the conference with the most international presence, and that makes them inherently dangerous,” Nichols said. “They don’t seem to be affected by the same emotions or complexities — there’s some subtle differences there.”

After a 25-19 win in the second set for the Pride, the third set resembled the “all out brawl” that Nichols was expecting. Deep into the frame, the Huskies managed a set point after an Underdown kill made it 28-27.

But Hofstra scored three points in a row to take the set and seal the match. The loss will make it difficult for the Huskies to secure a bye week in the CAA tournament. In order to make that happen, the team has to beat James Madison University on Friday, and needs Towson University to lose to eighth-place University of Delaware.

Friday’s match will conclude the regular season for the Huskies.

“It’s been a great season, but there are no days off,” Nichols said. “There’s a lot of things we want to accomplish.”

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