Syracuse Finishes Off Road Trip with Big Conference Win
By Justin Paura
CitrusTV Volleyball Reporter
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—After starting the conference season with a pair of wins at home, Syracuse (9-5, 5-1 ACC) hit the road for four straight matches. They opened the trip last weekend in North Carolina when they defeated Wake Forest and Duke on their home turf.
This Friday, the road trip continued and SU lost their first ACC match of the year to undefeated Pittsburgh. The squad bounced back Sunday with a commanding 3-0 sweep of Virginia (5-11, 1-5 ACC) and a great end to the four-game ACC tour.
The Orange got a big edge by playing much cleaner than the Cavaliers. Virginia actually led the match with more kills and attacks, but they also committed 14 more errors than Syracuse did. Much of that has to do with aggressive defense at the net from SU. They out-blocked UVA 11-4, including a match-high six blocks from senior Amber Witherspoon.
Though the final score may indicate that Syracuse made easy work of Virginia, that is far from the case. Senior Santita Ebangwese began the match with a service ace that energized her team to jump out to an early 6-3 lead. UVA responded with a 5-0 run to take the lead and the score would stay within four points for the remainder of the set. The Orange trailed 23-22 before freshman Polina Shemanova hammered a kill to tie it. Three points later, Shemanova slammed home another kill, her third of the set, to secure the 26-24 victory.
Virginia let the first game slip away and seemed intent not to do the same in the second. They start the set by forcing three SU attack errors a part of a 6-1 spurt that allowed the Cavaliers to reach a 10-3 advantage. Syracuse would not back down after the early game deficit, earning 10 of the next 13 available points to tie the game. The two teams then exchanged 4-0 runs before senior Jalissa Trotter gave SU the edge with an unassisted kill. The Orange would have a 24-21 lead when UVA tried to force the game past 25 once more with two straight points, but sophomore Yuliia Yastrub denied them that opportunity with the set sealing kill.
By the time the third set rolled around, Syracuse seemed to be in complete control. Set three was the only one SU had more attacks than UVA while also holding them to a match-low .048 hitting percentage. Shemanova had six kills, the most she had in a set on Sunday, to help the Orange wrap up the sweep with a 25-21 win.
Syracuse advances to 5-1 in ACC play this season and now does not have to leave home until the final weekend of October. The first of four consecutive home matches for SU is Friday night when they host Miami, who is also 5-1 in conference action this season.
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