By Josh Brown
With the first CAA Championship in program history on the line, the second seeded Northeastern Huskies fell short to No. 1 seed College of Charleston Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the 2013 CAA tournament. The Huskies, who lost the match 3-1, would of made their second NCAA tournament appearance in school history (2001) with a win.
Despite an unfavorable outcome, it is still a season to remember for Northeastern, who end the season with a 19-11 record, their 8th winning season in a row.
After beating No. 3 seed UNCW 3-0 in the semifinals on Saturday, Northeastern fought hard against the perennial Cougars, a team they split their season series with 1-1 with each team picking up their respective win on the road.
College of Charleston got on the board first winning the first set 27-25, a set that featured 15 ties and 7 lead changes. Northeastern jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead but the Cougars, behind Sloane White, were ultimately able to outlast the Huskies in extra points.
The Cougars extended their lead to 2-0 heading into the locker room for intermission. In a set mostly controlled by Northeastern, College of Charleston was able to just pull away at the end after big plays by Darcy Dorton and Cara Howley.
However, Northeastern would not go down easy. The Huskies took set 3 by a score of 25-19 headlined by huge plays from Kelly Bacon and Jamie Bredahl down the stretch. Libero Natalia Skiba provided crucial defense for Northeastern in the set.
It just was not meant to be for the Huskies, who dropped the fourth set 25-23. With the win the Cougars will be heading to the NCAA tournament for the 2nd year in a row.
Kelly Bacon finished the match with 20 kills and 16 digs. Bredahl added 13 kills along with 6 digs. Nichole Kurz had one of her best games of the season tallying 12 kills of her own. Skiba finished the game with 19 digs.
The Huskies will graduate 7 seniors; Kelly Bacon, Hanna Gibeau, Janelle Tucker, Ina Kamenova, Nichole Kurz, Kat Gueth and Brianna Hollis.
Five Huskies won prestigious awards at the annual CAA banquet this year hosted in Charleston, South Carolina before the CAA tournament.
Last year’s CAA player of the year Kelly Bacon walked away with All-CAA First Team honors for the second time in her outstanding Northeastern career. Bacon, who has been the clear-cut leader of the team, will go down as one of the best to ever play at Northeastern.
Freshman sensation Jamie Bredahl became the third Husky in the last 4 years to win CAA Rookie of the Year after a breakout freshman season in which she did not miss a set all season. Bredahl also took home All-CAA Second Team honors as well as being named on the All-Rookie Team.
Junior Libero Natalia Skiba was named the CAA Defensive Specialist of the Year. Skiba, who also won this award in 2011 as a freshman, played in all 115 sets for Northeastern during the regular season, racking up a league leading 648 digs. One of the best Libero’s in all of Division 1 volleyball, she also earned a spot on the All-CAA Second Team.
Senior Ina Kamenova was named to the All-CAA Third Team, after having one of her best seasons at Northeastern. The Bulgaria native picked up a bigger role with each season including becoming one of Northeastern’s best servers this year.
Freshman Ashlee Asada was named to the All-Academic Team.
Northeastern, who will now begin preparing for next season, will once again come into the season ranked among one of the best teams in the conference and will look to make a run at their first CAA crown.