After a second place finish in the Holly Young Invitational tournament, the Wildcats appeared to be playing confidently on their home court for the first time this season. When Northeastern came to visit on Tuesday, the ‘Cats lacked energy which has been their achilles heel all year. The visiting Huskies beat UNH in four sets.
Freshman Kennedi Smith recorded her first double-double in a UNH uniform Tuesday night as she tailed 17 kills and ten digs, both career highs. Senior Demi Muses was all over the court as she added 14 kills, 15 digs and four blocks.
“It was awesome,” head coach Jill Hirschinger said. “It was [Smith’s] first time being a regular on the court, she had a career night. It was awesome to see.”
“[Smith] can rip the crap out of the ball,” senior captain Courtney Bowman said. “It was really great to see her come out and carry us this game.”
The two sides showed they were evenly matched in the opening set, as there were seven ties and four lead changes. Northeastern broke off a 5-0 run late to take a 19-14 lead and they went on to win the set 27-25.
“Our skills are pretty consistent right now, there are just a lot of external factors we need to work on, like energy,” Bowman said.
The set one loss might have sparked something in the ‘Cats as they went on an early 5-0 run in set two. In a defensive battle, UNH held on to take the set 25-23.
“We didn’t make as many errors (in set two),” Hirschinger said. “It was a game of errors for us, we really shot ourselves in the foot. Northeastern’s a good team…you can’t make as many errors as we did.”
The first half of the match proved that both teams were equal in skill and that the energy level and momentum would be the deciding factor in this match. The Huskies were just too hot for the Wildcats to tame. Northeastern was coming off a six game win streak heading into Durham and looked to have the momentum and swagger of a team that is 4-1 on the road.
Northeastern took control early in the third set and the ‘Cats couldn’t catch up as they fell 25-20. The fourth set was more of the same as errors plagued UNH and the Huskies took the set 25-20 as well.
The errors on the court and the lack of energy at times are problems that need a quick answer as America East conference play starts on Sept. 30, UNH’s next game. As the three time defending champions, the Wildcats will have a target on their back and they can expect every team’s best performance.
UNH starts off conference play with two home games against the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Stony Brook University. The games are on Friday Sept. 30 and Sunday Oct. 2 at Lundholm Gymnasium.