Syracuse Volleyball Closes Out Weekend at Home and Gets Bumped Up to Third in ACC
By Annie Klaff
CitrusTV Volleyball Beat Reporter
After spending four straight weeks on the road, Syracuse finally had the chance to welcome other teams onto their own court. One of the best things about playing at home for the players is having fans.
“It’s so great having a crowd back when they’re not cheering against you,” said senior Polina Shemanova after Friday’s match.
The fans – especially the band that the players adore – and no need to travel certainly contributed to the Orange’s 3-1 set victory over Wake Forest on Friday. Despite the win, Head Coach Leonid Yelin mentioned that team performance could’ve been better. Specifically, he’d hoped to see a stronger blocking performance from SU’s side.
Moving into their match on Sunday against Virginia Tech, working on blocking became one of the focuses for the team. Shemanova said after Friday’s match that there is always room for improvement, regardless of a win.
Sunday brought exactly what Coach Yelin and the players expected out of themselves…improvement. Syracuse recorded six more block assists than on Friday and tidied up on the court as a whole. They went from 24 attack errors against Wake Forest to just six against VT.
The Orange outperformed the Hokies in the majority of team aspects on Sunday (Cuse.com).
Junior middle blocker Abby Casiano said that the team played much smarter on Sunday and executed more connectivity on the court, with each other and timing.
After their three set sweep on Sunday over Virginia Tech, Syracuse secured a record of 14-2 (3-1 in Atlantic Coast). Additionally, the strong weekend bumped the Orange up to third place in the ACC standings. The only two teams ahead of SU are Louisville and Pittsburgh, who both rank in the top three nationally.
Both the Cardinals and the Panthers remain undefeated. Syracuse still has a little over a month until they face Pitt, but they’re gearing up to take on Louisville this coming weekend. It is probable that this match-up on Sunday will be Syracuse’s toughest test so far.
In terms of Louisville’s past weekend, they defeated both Clemson and Georgia Tech in three sets. 12 of the Cards’ 14 total matches have been clean, three-set sweeps. But, Sunday was close to breaking that statistic. The second set against Georgia Tech made it all the way to a score of 36-34.
Georgia Tech battling no. 3 Louisville on Sunday (taken from Georgia Tech’s athletics website).
Yelin mentioned this score after SU’s match against Virginia Tech. He said this to demonstrate the strength and mental toughness of all-conference opponents in analyzing preparation for the coming weekend. He especially noted the “confidence” that Louisville shows out on the court.
To make things a bit trickier, Syracuse will also be filling in as the away team yet again this weekend.
“It’s a great experience for us to go against this kind of team and in this kind of environment,” said Yelin on the matter of traveling to Louisville in less than a week.
“To play in the NCAA, this is something really important to get used to and know how to handle this crowd. We always say that when you’re playing you have to trick your brain to pretend that it’s your crowd.”
In addition, both Casiano and teammate Marina Markova said that they always need to focus on playing their own game and to never attempt to play their opponents’.
The Orange played a smart, clean, strong game this weekend, and forced their opponents to play sloppier. Syracuse will need to channel this type of game in just a matter of time. On Friday, SU takes on Notre Dame at 7 P.M. and then Sunday against Louisville at 1 P.M.
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