Syracuse Continues to Struggle in ACC Play

Wednesday, Oct 11, 2023 at 11:54 am by Sports Editor

By: Rahill Jaiswal | @RahillJaiswal 

Syracuse Volleyball has hit the halfway point of the season and is still in search of its first ACC win of the season. The Orange sit at 0-6, with only two sets won. So, what has been the main issue with SU?

A main issue has been the offense. The Orange rank dead last in kill percentage with 9.1%. This again points to the lack of players on Syracuse’s roster. SU’s hitters are not naturally hitters. These players are being forced to play out of position which is making it tough. Especially in the ACC, which is considered the hardest conference for Volleyball this season. Also, Syracuse has continued to run into injury problems this season. One of SU’s natural hitters, Ariana Joubert has been in and out of the lineup all season. Syracuse has also struggled with fatigue this season. Remember, SU is only playing with 9 players while their opponents can shuffle 14-15 players at times. Another thing this does is that it forces SU’s “hitters” to also be their best passers. After their loss against Wake Forest, head coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam put it in NBA terms. He said,  “It’s like your best scorer trying to guard the other team’s best player. That takes a lot of energy out of you.” Every other team in the ACC doesn’t have to worry about that because they have the luxury of being able to shuffle players in and out of their lineup.

So, how can Syracuse try and get around these issues? The main thing SU can do is try and serve better. When SU won the third set against Virginia, Zharia-Harris-Waddy served 5 aces in the middle stages. When SU competed well against number 8 Pittsburgh, they served the ball at a very high level. According to coach Ganesharatnam, the Orange have to try and find a good balance between serving errors and being aggressive. Anytime Syracuse can get a few free points is a huge benefit given their small roster. It can not only help them save energy, but it could also help them build 4 to 5-point leads. Another thing SU needs to do is to try and minimize runs. Throughout the whole season, coach Ganesharatnam has consistently preached that controlling scoring runs is the key to winning in Volleyball. When Syravuse lost to Iowa earlier in the season, the scoring runs by the Hawks made all the difference. In one of SU’s most recent matches against Virginia Tech, the Hokies finished the match on a 9-2 run to seal the match. If Syracuse could cut those types of runs in half, they could have a chance at staying close in longer sets.   

Now there are a few positives to look at. The first being that Laila Smith is back from injury. The Middle Blocker made her return to the lineup after nearly a month. She had two solid performances last weekend against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Also, Cherlin Antonio has conunited her unbelievable play this season. Despite Syracuse’s offensive struggles, the transfer has managed to turn herself into one of the top players in the ACC. Antonio ranks 4th in kills per set, and 10th in pts per set in the ACC.  Syracuse will be back in action at home this weekend against North Carolina and Duke.