Syracuse Offense Stymied in Rough Weekend Against Notre Dame
By Leo Silverman
CitrusTV’s Volleyball Beat Reporter
Last weekend, Syracuse shocked many by beating Pittsburgh, the top team in the ACC Preseason Poll, in both matches. In fact, the second game saw the Orange beat Pitt in straight-sets, the first time the Panthers have fell in that fashion since 2017. Syracuse’s reward? The number five spot in the nation on the AVCA Coaches Poll. This week saw them face off against No. 6 Notre Dame in a two game series on the road. Despite such a dominating start to the season, Syracuse dropped both games against Notre Dame this weekend.
Game one saw the Orange struggle mightily on the offensive side. Syracuse hit just .203 from the field in a four-set match that Syracuse could’ve easily been swept in. Junior outside hitter Polina Shermanova did have fourteen kills in the game, but hit just .098 with 10 attacking errors. An uncharacteristic game for the first team All-ACC hitter. To add insult to injury, Syracuse committed 24 errors in the match, giving up points that could’ve made a huge difference in the two close sets that defined the match. When facing off against the powerful outside hitting duo of Sophomore Caroline Meuth and Junior Charlie Niego, SU cannot afford to commit that many errors. Meuth and Niego combined for 34 kills in the match, more than half of the Fighting Irish’s total kills.
Game two on Saturday saw many of the problems from the night before continue for the Orange as SU was swept by Notre Dame. Meuth and Niego put up another 30+ kill game for the Fighting Irish, and the Orange could not match that offensive production at all. Syracuse converted just .204% of hits in the game, and committed 15 errors in just three sets. The bright side came from Shermanova, who rebounded from an abysmal first game to hit .225% with 15 kills. The All-ACC first team hitter got no help though, as Senior Outside Hitter Yuliia Yastrub had a measly three kills, and Senior Ella Saada committed six attacking errors in the contest. Just a week after sweeping Pitt, Syracuse were swept themselves. The third set got so bad, at one point the Orange were down 11-20.
In the first two weekends, Syracuse has looked like two very different teams on offense. Sitting at 2-2, and facing a Louisville team that returns every starter from a team that made the quarter-finals of the NCAA tournament last year, it is crucial the Orange fix the offensive problems fast. In such a shortened season, it is vital for a team who looked to be the top tier of the nation a week prior, win out for any chance to make the tournament. The Cardinals last game saw them hold Boston College to a .142 hitting percentage, and it won’t be any easier for the Orange offense. SU has shown that it doesn’t need Shermanova to go off every game to compete, which is exactly what the Orange will have to do down in Kentucky this weekend. Game one against the 2-1 Louisville Cardinals is set for Friday at seven.
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