Why Senior Day Will Look So Different This Season For Ella Saada

Thursday, Mar 25, 2021 at 3:31 pm by Sports Editor

By Nick Luttrell

CitrusTV Volleyball Beat Reporter

101. That’s the number of games that Ella Saada has played in during her four-year tenure at Syracuse. In fact, that’s the amount in a row that the senior has participated in. Saada hasn’t missed a single game her entire career. As she looks to continue that streak, she will play in her final home game on Sunday.

The Israelian native is one of three seniors on the team being recognized on Senior Day on Sunday afternoon. This moment for Saada will look much different than what she once expected. Fans would fill the Women’s Building during any other year. However, this season is very different. Syracuse Head Coach Leonid Yelin still seems a little disappointed for his team that New York state isn’t allowing fans into the building. 

“Because of the state policy (way different from other schools where we played – they had limitations of fans but they did have fans) It’s no fans [for us] and Ella will not be able to have her parents be with her on that day”, Yelin remarked. 

In addition to fans, Syracuse is not allowing parents and families. Because of this, Coach Yelin is wanting to do everything he can to still make the moment special for Saada.

“She’s a one-of-a-kind senior who’s gonna play [her] last time on her home floor… we will do our best to make her feel good”, Yelin said.

Saada is truly unique in her role on the team given her past experiences. Saada grew up in Kfar Masaryk, Israel where volleyball is the most popular sport. She watched and learned from her three brothers and at the age of 13, she enrolled at Wingate Institute. This is a specialized boarding school for volleyball players. She remained here until she graduated 6 years later. 

After that, Saada enlisted into the Israeli armed forces. There, she was able to serve in a program specifically designed for athletes. A year after finishing her service in the military, Saada joined Coach Yelin’s squad as a 21-year-old. And the rest is history.

In her freshman year, she recorded 234 kills and 278 digs and was selected to the ACC All-Freshman Team. The next year in 2018 she had 228 kills and 222 digs and last season finished with a career-high 295 kills alongside 192 digs. 

This season, while Saada’s on-court role hasn’t been as dominant as in recent years, she still is a big-time leader for her team. As a 24-year-old senior who has been playing competitive volleyball since she was 9, she definitely has the experience that the rest of her teammates can look up to. You can bet that they will find a way to thank her in the best way possible come Sunday afternoon inside the Women’s Building.

naluttre@syr.edu | @nickluttie