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Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Volleyball Takes ACC Opener Against Boston College

By Zachary Levine

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse Volleyball knocked off Boston College in four sets in its ACC opener on Wednesday.

The Orange came into the contest with an 8-5 record, having won five of its last six matches. Non-conference play saw Syracuse traveling to Kansas State, Dartmouth, and Hofstra, where the team was able to grow together and work out last-minute kinks. Junior outside hitter Anastasiya Gorelina started the season in a slump, but has since found her groove and settled into her role.

“I don’t know exactly what changed, but it’s something inside,” said Gorelina. “I need to be more aggressive and fight for my team.”

The struggling Boston College Eagles entered conference play with a 3-7 record, looking to rebound after losses to in-state foes Harvard and Northeastern. The Eagles offense was headlined by the power of sophomore right side hitter Cat Balido, who entered the game with a team-high 145 kills.

On Wednesday, SU applied the pressure early on with strong defense from senior libero Belle Sand and blocking from juniors Gorelina and Santita Ebangwese. The Eagles was able to keep the first set close, never allowing the Orange to lead by more than four points. With the set tied at 11, the Orange went on an 8-4 run and never looked back, taking the first frame from BC, 25-23.

SU struggled as the second set wore on, eventually trailing by as many as seven points. A late-set comeback attempt led by junior Santita Ebangwese helped bring the Orange to within three, but the Eagles pulled ahead and on to a 25-21 second set win.

Ebangwese, a Rochester, NY, native, recorded 11 kills and four blocks on the night. She was a breakout performer early on this season, showcasing her strength from the outside corners of the court. Santita’s 119 non-conference kills helped set the SU attack’s pace heading into its ACC schedule.

After opening up a small lead, the Orange began to fall behind midway through the third set, starting to look like it did in the previous frame. Down 21-16, power defense by Sand and the offensive power of sophomore Kendra Lukacs helped SU come back and eventually pull away from BC, bringing it within one set of a victory.

Compared to the previous three, the fourth set looked routine for the Orange. Even with a late surge from the Eagles, SU never gave up the lead in the final frame, which further showcased the power of Gorelina and Lukacs.

According to Lukacs, in a year that already feels different than last, team dynamic is an important element to victory.

“It’s really important to look to your teammates and encourage each other,” she said. “I love seeing my teammates succeed, and it fuels me as well.”

Head Coach Leonid Yelin glowed with positive energy after the victory.

“We are really happy to go away with this kind of win,” said Yelin. He emphasized, however, that there is still more work to be done.

The Orange will hit the road again as it takes on Pittsburgh this Friday, looking to tally its second ACC win.