Syracuse Cruises Past Feeble Virginia
By Brad Klein
CitrusTV Volleyball Beat Reporter
The ACC is an incredibly strong conference, and so Syracuse (5-8, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) has had to face elite conference competition throughout the year. Elite competition like No. 3 Pittsburgh on Friday. While the Panthers swept the Orange, Head Coach Leonid Yelin wore a smile after the match, knowing his team can build off of an impressive first set performance in the loss.
Syracuse did just that on Sunday in a clean sweep against Virginia (9-10, 1-5 Atlantic Coast). The Orange lit up the stat sheet, more than doubling the Cavaliers kill total. Yelin acknowledged that, while SU played well, they have seen stronger competition in the past.
“They’re not as strong as Pittsburgh. I can not say we tried more than with Pittsburgh,” Yelin said. “It was just easier to execute our plan. But who cares? We take everything we can.”
Even though the other side of the net did not challenge Syracuse, sophomore Polina Shemanova says the Orange were controlling in their performance.
“I will say that they’re a little bit not as strong as Pitt. That’s obvious,” Shemanova said. “We just didn’t make our mistakes, and we played our best.”
Shemanova posted her sixth double-double of the season with 19 kills and 16 digs.
Defensive specialist Aliah Bowllan doesn’t care about how strong the opponent is. The senior says the Orange executed to perfection.
“I think we executed playing as a team really well,” Bowllan said. “Yesterday, during practice, I know we worked a lot on getting a lot of touches and playing and being competitive, and I think it paid off.”
Bowllan finished with 11 digs and five assists as the libero.
One department SU executed particularly well in was the service line. Syracuse committed seven service errors, which caps off a great weekend from the backline. The Orange made just 11 mistakes on serves in both matches combined during the weekend, less than they had in their loss to Duke last week.
“Serving is a lot of mentality, and I think as a team, something we have been working on all season is cutting down on those errors,” Bowllan said.
Freshman Abigail Casiano and Marina Markova continued to impress in the middle. Yelin says Casiano is still getting better.
“She has never played even close to this kind of level,” Yelin said. “So she is learning how to play against college players, and that’s why she is getting better.”
The Orange also got a boost from senior Kendra Lukacs in the starting lineup. The Calgary native missed the first nine matches of the season with a right shoulder injury. In her return, she suited up as the libero as Bowllan was still inactive with a right ankle injury. Lukacs’s shoulder was still not healthy enough for the swinging motion of an outside hitter. She played all three sets on the outside and knocked down three kills.
The schedule resumes to its typical toughness on Friday, October 18, when SU heads down to Coral Gables to take on the Miami Hurricanes.
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