Syracuse Drops First Match of the Season in Straight Sets
By Justin Paura
Volleyball Beat Reporter
Milwaukee, WI—The Orange showed out last weekend in the UConn Invitational Tournament. It was the first task for the squad in the regular season and Syracuse had a confident 3-0 win over UNH and a resilient 3-2 victory against the host UConn.
In the team’s second tournament of the season, SU (2-1, 0-0 ACC) did not start nearly as strong as the women drop its first match of the year to BYU (7-0, 0-0 WCC). The Cougars won the first set 25-23 and the final two 25-20 to remain undefeated and hand the Orange their first loss of the year.
The first set gave hope for a competitive bout. In the first 16 points of the match, there were four ties and three lead changes between the two unbeaten teams. After the set reached 8-8, the Cougars started to take control by rattling off four consecutive points before eventually getting out to a 17-11 lead. Syracuse did its best to keep the set close, taking a late lead at 20-19 thanks to great front row play from Preseason All-ACC Senior Santita Ebangwese. It was 23-23 before BYU called a timeout, but the Cougars came out of the quick break focused and won the next two points to claim the set.
Syracuse came out stronger in the second set. Sophomore Ella Saada ignited an 8-4 run to open the game with three kills off assists from three different players. But after that, BYU regained its momentum. They played a cleaner set with only three errors while forcing the Orange to commit eight, ultimately proving to be the difference in the set.
BYU came into set number three with a comfortable 2-0 cushion, but you wouldn’t know that by the way they played. They defended Syracuse well at the net, holding them to an ugly 3.1 attack percentage, a near 20% drop from the set prior. SU never found its stride and could not stop the Cougars who only surrendered three sets in six matches this season.
Roni Jones-Perry and McKenna Miller led the charge for BYU, combining for 31 kills and 65 total attacks. UConn Tournament-MVP Polina Shemanova paced the Orange in kills with 14, but the SU attack was no match for the Cougars who had 11 blocks and held them to just 15% hitting on the night.
The Orange has an opportunity to get back in the win column Saturday afternoon in the second game of the Marquette Tournament against USC.
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