2022 Season Recap: Volleyball
By: Ryan Bridges | @RyanBridges517
CitrusTV Volleyball Beat Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse Volleyball’s season came to a close on Saturday after suffering a 3-1 loss to NC State. SU finished with an overall record of 11-17 and went 7-11 in the ACC.
The Orange were forced to make plenty of changes before the start of the season. After the retirement of Head Coach Leonid Yelin, Syracuse hired Bakeer Ganesharatnam to take his place.
Ganesharatnam immediately got to work trying to build out SU’s roster. This was a tough task for the former Temple Head Coach. The Orange had just six players return from the previous season, and only one of them was a starter (Polina Shemanova). Syracuse received three transfers through the portal: Alyssa Bert, Didar Ozcan, and Bre Walp, and also added two freshmen: Melina Brooking and Ariana Joubert. These five additions brought the Orange’s roster to a total of 11 players. Most collegiate volleyball teams have around 17 to 19 players, but Syracuse did not have the time to add any more.
The ‘Cuse were a part of three different preseason tournaments: the Charlotte Invitational, the UCF Challenge, and the Syracuse Tournament. They went 4-5 in the nine games they played. After falling to Bryant on a one game road trip, SU was now ready for the ACC.
The start of conference play was one of the more surprising moments in Syracuse’s season. The Orange took down both Duke and Boston College in their first two ACC games. SU followed that up by winning its next two games on the road against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. The Orange were now just one win shy from their best start ever in the ACC. Players around the team were treating conference play as essentially a new season, and the results showed up on the court.
SU then hit a bit of a rough patch. The Orange were swept in three straight games by Notre Dame, Louisville, and NC State. Syracuse rebounded with wins against North Carolina and Clemson, but fell to #10 Georgia Tech. The team was able to stay at home for the next two weeks for what would be its longest home stretch of the season.Sitting at 6-3 in the ACC, the Orange were off to a great start for a team that came into the season with changes happening both on the court and on the bench. However, this is when Syracuse’s lack of experience and depth started to rear its ugly head. SU went 1-7 in their final eight matches, and even lost to the same teams twice down the stretch. A combination of unforced errors and defensive struggles became apparent for the Orange.
Syracuse’s small roster size meant the team had to shorten practices so that the players would be fresh for matches. Within matches, teams could sub in multiple different players for each position group while SU had an eight-man rotation for the entire team. ACC teams that came into matches with fresher legs were simply able to outlast the Orange in sets.
It was a rebuilding year for the program considering the changes they had to go through. Coach Ganesharatnam told reporters back in October that he started recruiting for future seasons as soon as he took the job. It was a unique season for a group that came together at the last minute, but in future seasons, Syracuse should have more time to recruit players earlier and build chemistry to make the team a more cohesive unit. Only time will tell what this program will look like under the reigns of Bakeer Ganesharatnam as he now has a chance to put his imprint on Syracuse Volleyball.