Syracuse Sweeps Virginia Tech for 5th Consecutive Win
By Brad Klein
CitrusTV’s Volleyball Beat Reporter
Isaac Newton’s first law of motion states that something in motion will remain in motion unless an outside force is acted upon it. Syracuse volleyball (10-11, 7-7 Atlantic Coast) epitomizes Newton’s first law as they are cruising right now. No team has challenged them enough to slow them down since the middle of October. Syracuse defeated Virginia Tech (9-18, 2-12 Atlantic Coast) in a clean sweep for their fifth consecutive win on Sunday.
SU traces the birth of their five-match explosion to two crucial victories against North Carolina State and Notre Dame. Senior outside hitter Kendra Lukacs says those matches taught the team about the group’s strength.
“As you build and win, you start to realize as a team that we can do this, and we can win,” Lukacs said. “A lot of pushing through in the final points of those matches is mental. A lot of it is believing that we are the better team, and we can do that.”
Syracuse Head Coach Leonid Yelin is not surprised by the team’s turnaround.
“They all can play. It’s not like in a couple of weeks we just got new skills and got so much better,” Yelin said. “No, it just about believing in ourselves. It’s about believing in the system. It’s about believing in their teammates.”
A significant difference between this win and the other four during the streak was on the stat sheet. Polina Shemanova posted a double-double in each of the previous four matches, but she did not have to do so on Sunday. The sophomore racked up 17 kills and seven digs. The Orange distributed the wealth well, and Lukacs says that has been key for SU under the surface of standout performances from Shemanova.
“It’s a huge team win. I think especially with our team being a little smaller with injuries and stuff; it is important for us to all come together and be close-knit and supportive of each other,” Lukacs said. “So I think as that has kind of grown throughout the season, we have all been able to pull together for the team and all do our part individually and help bring that together for the win.”
The Orange won the first set 25-17, which was the closest frame in the match. SU won 10 of the first 13 points and never looked back.
It looked like Virginia Tech was going to challenge Syracuse in the next set, but the Orange went on a 6-0 run to stifle the threat. The second set winner came on an ace by Ella Saada. Saada experimented with a more aggressive serve with more topspin, which resulted in three aces in the match. Syracuse won the second set 25-15.
Yelin’s squad won the third frame 25-13 thanks to two extended runs in the middle of the set.
The Orange hit the road on Friday to play Louisville. The Cardinals are one of the Orange’s five victims during the streak.
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