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Saturday, Dec 02, 2017 at 1:34 am

Volleyball Advances to the NIVC Quarterfinals

By Zachary Levine

HAMILTON, N.Y. — Syracuse volleyball was back on the court for the second round of the NIVC tournament on Friday to take on the Towson Tigers. While Towson kept SU on its toes for the entire match, the Orange was able to maintain the control needed to roll to a straight-set victory. SU now heads to Morgantown, WV for a matchup with the Mountaineers on Monday.

The Orange beat Albany in four sets in Thursday’s first round NIVC matchup, while the Tigers beat Colgate in a five-set nail-biter.

The Orange entered the game prepared for whatever came its way, despite an injured Anastasiya Gorelina. Gorelina played limited points off the bench, but said she hopes to be back in the starting lineup on Monday.

Junior middle blocker Santita Ebangwase led the way with 16 kills for the Orange, while Amber Witherspoon racked up 11. Jalissa Trotter tallied 43 assists, while Belle Sand and Aliah Bowllan split up the defensive duties. Sand, the senior libero from Minnesota, led the way with 12 digs. Bowllan followed close behind with 10 of her own.

The NIVC is an invitational bracket-style tournament that provides teams that didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament with a chance to experience playoff-style volleyball.

“None of these players have ever been in this kind of situation,” SU head coach Leonid Yelin said.”Yes, it’s not the NCAA [tournament], but as close as you could be. Nobody has ever experienced this. I do my best just to explain to them that it’s a totally different mentality. I’ve been in the playoffs many, many times, and, it’s hard to explain.”

“I mean, you know, it’s single elimination,” Ebangwase said .”You have to give it all you’ve got. You have to play like it could be your last game, because it could be. If I go in and say, ‘Oh my god, we could lose, we could lose, we could be done, then we’d all be tense and we’d probably end up losing.”

SU’s next opponent, the West Virginia Mountaineers, beat Maryland Eastern Shore and Temple on its way to a spot hosting the quarterfinals against the Orange.

Monday’s quarterfinals matchup will begin at 6 PM, with the winner set to take on the winner of Georgia at Ole Miss.