By: Jake Shindel, Sports Editor
Towson Volleyball defeated Northeastern 3-0 to advance to the CAA Championship game as the team looks to win their fourth straight CAA Championship.
Outside Hitter Victoria Barrett led the team with 15 kills, while Outside Hitter Fay Bakodimou finished with nine kills. Middle Blocker Irbe Lazda and Outside Hitter Nina Cajic were right on their heels with eight kills each. Defensive Specialist Rachel Hess led the defensive effort with 17 digs.
“[Victoria] is a special athlete, she’s a six-rotational athlete, and we couldn’t be happier that she’s here because she brings a calmness to the court,” said Head Coach Don Metil.
Towson grabbed an 8-4 lead before a 4-0 run by Northeastern tied the game up. A kill by Cajic broke the tie, giving Towson a one-point lead. Northeastern put together another 4-0 run to take a 12-9 lead before a strong kill by Middle Blocker Aayinde Smith knotted the game at 12 apiece.
Another emphatic kill, this time by Barrett, caused Northeastern to call a timeout on the heels of a 5-0 run by Towson. The Tigers scored another point before the Huskies ended the run, with Towson holding a 15-13 lead. Towson took a 20-13 lead behind a 5-0 run. Northeastern took a timeout after another emphatic kill by Barrett, as they found themselves down 22-15.
Metil took a timeout for Towson after giving up a 3-0 run to Northeastern, wanting to think things over while leading the set 24-19. A kill by Cajic gave Towson a 1-0 lead, led by Barrett’s seven kills and Hess’ six digs in the first set.
Metil took a timeout early in the second set as Towson was down 8-3. An unsuccessful challenge by Northeastern allowed Towson to keep their point, and help cut the deficit 11-9. Towson tied the game 12-12, and then an unsuccessful challenge by Metil put the game at 14-12 Northeastern.
A block by Lazda and Middle Blockers Lydia Wiers tied the game, and a kill by Wiers put Towson up 19-18. Northeastern called a timeout as Towson took a 21-19 lead. An ace by Defensive Specialist Sydney Stewart put Towson within one point of winning the set, and Northeastern called a timeout. Towson won the set 25-22.
Bakodimou had four kills in the second set, and Barrett had three, giving her a total of ten kills through the first two sets. Going into the third set, Towson took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five.
In the third set, Northeastern held an 11-8 lead but two straight points for Towson put them down 1, and then the score was tied 12-12. Setter Katie McCracken got hit in the throat with the ball causing the arena to fall silent, but she was able to stay in the game and help Towson take a 15-14 lead.
“Katie survived a lot of things throughout her lifetime,” Metil said. “To take a shot in the throat like that anyone is going to be startled, but we knew she’d be OK.”
Northeastern took a timeout down 19-17 late in the third set, and then Towson took a timeout of their own with a 19-18 lead. Metil took another timeout a couple points later, when Towson was down 23-22. The win-by-two set went past the 25-point mark needed to win, with the two teams tied at 27. A kill by Barrett gave Towson a 29-28 lead, and a finisher by Barrett gave Towson the win, advancing them to the finals.
Looking ahead to Towson’s next game, Metil said he plans to use the same game plan that got them this far.
“We’re gonna stick to the game plan, we’re gonna breakdown film, we’re gonna sit here and watch this matchup and see who’s doing what,” Metil said. “And hopefully stay true to our mission and our timeline. We’ll be ready tomorrow.”
Towson awaits the winner of Delaware v. William & Mary to see who they play in the CAA Championship, Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.