A reverse sweep to close out its opening conference series left the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team still in search of its first important win of the year.
The Seawolves (4-8, 0-2 CAA) opened their Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) season by losing both matches to the Northeastern Huskies (6-4, 2-0 CAA) over the weekend at Pritchard Gymnasium. On Saturday afternoon, they lost 3-1. On Sunday, Stony Brook squandered a 2-0 lead before losing the final three sets to fall 3-2.
The Seawolves kicked off the series by losing a back-and-forth opening set. A strong start by Northeastern put Stony Brook into a 19-13 hole. Middle blockers Ayanna Pierre Louis and Abby Campbell spearheaded a dominant 9-2 run to give Stony Brook a 22-21 lead. Campbell put them in front with three-straight kills. After the Huskies jumped back in front, another kill by Campbell tied the set at 23. However, consecutive kills by Northeastern setter Jessica Frannea and middle blocker Marika Virthe sealed a 25-23 opening-set win for the Huskies.
Both sides fought hard in the second set, leading to a 16-16 deadlock. From there, Northeastern broke the tie with a 4-0 run on the back of defensive specialist Pono Gacutan, who recorded consecutive service aces. With Stony Brook trailing 20-16, a pair of kills and an ace by Campbell sparked an 8-4 run, evening things at 24 apiece. However, Northeastern outside hitters Defne Arliel and Julianna Truscott each spiked a kill to clinch the 26-24 victory.
Head coach Kristin Belzung commended Campbell for her late-game efforts.
“I think she played like a veteran today,” Belzung said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “She took advantage of every opportunity that they gave her. That’s what we need from her.”
With its back against the wall, Stony Brook came out and opened the third set on a 10-3 run led by three-straight aces by defensive specialist Madison Cigna. The Seawolves’ lead shrunk to 17-15 after a 12-7 stretch by the Huskies, but they finished the set on an 8-2 run behind kills from Campbell along with outside hitters Kali Moore and Leoni Kunz to win it 25-17.
Belzung attributed her team’s improvement in the third set to a better mental state.
“I think we had a lot of miscommunication errors in the first two sets and we put an emphasis on communicating through it,” Belzung said. “I thought our ability to refocus and execute at a high level … down the stretch was really good.”
In the fourth set, the Seawolves jumped out to an 11-10 lead, but Northeastern ran off four-straight points thanks to a pair of aces by Gacutan. Two kills by outside hitter Lauren Schmitz cut the score to 15-13, but the Huskies never looked back and ended the set on a 10-2 run. With the 25-15 blowout loss, Stony Brook dropped the first match.
Stony Brook failed to bounce back on Sunday despite getting off to a great start. With the first set tied at 13, the Seawolves scored eight consecutive points thanks to kills by Kunz, Campbell and Moore. The Huskies slowly chipped away at the lead, but Stony Brook sealed the 25-18 victory with a kill by outside hitter Abby Stanwood and an error from Northeastern middle blocker Anabel Zier.
The Seawolves crawled their way to a 17-15 lead in the second set, but they committed three errors to open the door for a 4-0 run by the Huskies. Stony Brook rallied to tie it at 20 apiece, but another three consecutive errors gave Northeastern a 23-20 advantage. Once again, Moore, Kunz and Campbell found creases in the Huskies’ defense to engineer and complete a successful rally. The Seawolves took a 2-0 lead by securing the 26-24 victory on Moore’s game-winning ace.
In need of a win, Northeastern started off strong in the third set, leading 12-7 early. Stony Brook came back to tie it at 18 apiece behind a bevy of attack errors by the Huskies. The Huskies distanced themselves when they went on a 6-2 run to reach the set point. Stony Brook pulled within one after three-straight kills by Moore, but an attack error by Kunz gave the Huskies a 25-23 win to prolong the match.
Northeastern started off the fourth set flying high when they went up 9-4 thanks to three-straight aces by defensive specialist Tessa Onaga. The Huskies’ lead grew to 15-9, which was their largest of the set. The Seawolves outscored their opponents 12-10 for the rest of the set but never got within less than two points, ultimately losing 25-21.
Belzung traced her team’s collapse to its sloppy play.
“The reality is we were too high on errors the entire match and the Huskies found a way to take advantage of that and get themselves into a little bit of rhythm,” Belzung said. “Once you get that third set, all bets are off and you have to get to work.”
Stony Brook opened the fifth and final set with a 5-4 lead, but it allowed a 6-2 Northeastern run by committing four errors. The Seawolves tried to keep the final set close, but the Huskies pulled away with three consecutive points to make it 13-8. After a kill and an ace by Stanwood got them within three points, the match ended on a pair of attack errors by Moore to seal the 15-10 defeat.
Stony Brook’s 42 errors in the second match inhibited it from finishing with the win. The team’s poor performance dropped its hitting percentage to .170 for the series and .200 on the year. The Huskies were much cleaner, as they posted a .200 hitting percentage.
Setter Torri Henry had another big weekend, recording her fifth and sixth double-doubles of the year. She totaled 102 total assists and 25 digs over the weekend. Libero Julia Patsos led the team with 41 digs in the series.
Kunz was the Seawolves’ best offensive player, leading the team with 37 points on a .325 hitting percentage. Moore scored 32 points against Northeastern, but her 20 errors left her with a .080 hitting percentage. She did post her second and third double-doubles, though.
Campbell scored 28 points and led the squad with 10 total blocks and a .368 hitting percentage.
Stony Brook hopes to bounce back next weekend in a two-match series down in South Carolina at the Charleston Cougars. Charleston is struggling right now, sitting at just 3-10 overall. The Cougars lost both matches to William & Mary 3-2 this past weekend. Opening set is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday.