Syracuse Uses Extra Rest to Sweep Virginia Tech
By Justin Paura
CitrusTV Volleyball Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The Orange have played a busy schedule all season long. Most weeks consist of two or three matches with multiple flights separating each road trip. This month however, Syracuse only played two matches, the last one being a week ago in Atlanta, and have had plenty of time to prepare for Virginia Tech to come to the Women’s Building. The extra rest looked evident as SU (17-7, 13-3 ACC) swept VT (14-15, 5-12 ACC) to extend their win streak to five.
Asserting their dominance at the net played a huge role in Syracuse’s victory. The number two blocking team in the country posted six blocks in the first set and disrupted many more swings throughout the match. Senior middle blockers Amber Witherspoon and Santita Ebangwese didn’t have insane numbers, but they did their part as intimidators to force VT to hit an abysmal 12.4%.
The attack from SU did not show up to play in the first set. The team only mustered up 12 kills on 16.2%, seeming rather hesitant to let loose on swings. However, the defense stepped up in the offense’s absence. Virginia Tech hit just 5% and committed a match-high 10 errors in the 25-19 loss.
In the second set, the offense looked a lot more fluid. Ever since the Orange’s lone ranked win of the season at Louisville, they have been running a 6-2 offense, meaning there are always three hitters in the front row as the setter comes up from the back. With that, everyone becomes a threat and the ball tends to find different players more often than not to deliver the finishing blow. The numbers back it up, as Polina Shemanova and Ella Saada matched for the team-high in kills with 11, with Witherspoon not too far behind with eight. SU hit 36.7% in the second, over 25% better than the Hokies, in route to the 25-18 win.
Things got a lot easier in the third. Syracuse went on a 5-0 run to increase their lead to 16-8 and never looked back, taking the closing set 25-16. They played that set extremely relaxed and free, getting in players like freshman Elena Karakasi and senior Anastasiya Gorelina who haven’t seen much time all season. It was the best set Syracuse played all day, hitting over 48% on 15 kills while only picking up two errors.
This was arguably Syracuse’s most complete win of the season based on what they did on both sides of the ball and the control they had throughout the match. However, this team is still in search of making the program’s first NCAA Tournament and have two matches left to make a statement. Before their regular season finale at home Saturday, the Orange head to Raleigh to take on NC State Wednesday afternoon.
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