Things Are Looking Up for SU Volleyball with Shemanova and Markova Back on the Court
By Annie Klaff
CitrusTV Volleyball Reporter
The Syracuse Volleyball team is hitting their 2021 fall season with exceptional strides. With just 1 loss out of 9 total games thus far, this is an insane improvement from last spring’s 3-5 record. So what is it that’s helped the Orange come back from their shaky spring season? One major contribution is the return of St. Petersburg, Russia natives Marina Markova and Polina Shemanova.
After flying home for winter break last year, the Russian duo came across issues with their visas. Unfortunately for Markova, Shemanova, and the team, this left the Orange to continue their spring 2021 season without two extremely crucial attackers. Due to the complications with their visas, the two were forced to miss out on the entire season and not to arrive in the U.S. until 2 months past their previously expected date. Not only did this pain the two hitters emotionally, but also hurt Syracuse on the court a great deal.
Last spring without Markova and Shemanova, SU lacked the presence for some powerful attacking and hitting chances. Not to mention that the Orange were also missing one of the team’s tallest players (Marina Markova at 6’5”) and one of only two juniors (Polina Shemanova) that could’ve been helpful to fill leadership positions in and out of play. Without outside hitter Shemanova, freshman at the time Naomi Franco and sophomore Viktoriia Lokhmanchuck were left to pick up some slack on the offensive end. Out of the 5 losses last spring, 3 of them were full set shutouts. Now this isn’t to say that these results were their faults, but it certainly would’ve been beneficial to have Markova and Shemanova there to help out.
Fast-forward a few months however, the pair secured visa approvals and were set for the U.S. yet again. After the long-awaited return, Markova and Shemanova reunited with the Orange better than ever, opening the fall 2021 season with the Syracuse Invitational. In their first few matches, the Orange only lost 2 sets out of 3 entire matches. Syracuse as a whole wasn’t the only thing coming back strong. In just the opening match against Buffalo, outside hitter Polina Shemanova owned 3 more kills than her entire fall 2020 season high, with 23 against the Bulls. She was also named to the all-tournament team and Markova was titled the MVP of the whole weekend. Needless to say, the ambitious duo was back in the game.
5 more wins and just 1 loss to Iowa State later, Syracuse is ready to take on the rest of their season, especially as they head into ACC games coming soon. The Orange don’t take on a conference opponent for just under 2 weeks, but there’s no surprise they’ll need all the court time they can get against some tough competition. As of right now, 7 of the 15 teams in the ACC are either undefeated or have just 1 loss, like SU. Markova, Shemanova, and the Orange have 4 more games before they challenge Duke to open their conference season. They’ll need to continue their strong stride to remain in strong standing in the ACC. With the help from Shemanova and Markova being the top two team leaders in kills, it’s evident that the Orange have shown improvements as a team out on the court. Along with strong performances from other notable players like Elena Karakasi leading in assists and Abby Casiano topping the team in blocks, things are certainly looking up for Syracuse.
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