When the Seawolves walked into Pritchard Gymnasium Sunday afternoon for their final regular season game against Hartford, they knew what the circumstances were. A win meant they would punch their ticket into the playoffs, and punch their ticket they did. The Stony Brook Women’s Volleyball team defeated Hartford in four sets, 25-21, 25-14, 17-25, 25-14.
The Hawks played tough in the first set. Freshman middle blocker and outside hitter Taylor Wilson gave the Seawolves the lead 21-18 when she hit into the blockers and watched the ball go out of bounds. After a kill by senior middle blocker Stephanie McFadden to give the Seawolves the set point, Wilson won the first set for Stony Brook with her fifth kill.
The Seawolves had wasted no time getting an early lead in the second set, as they started the game with a 5-0 run. Redshirt senior outside hitter Kathy Fletcher led the way with five kills for the Seawolves as they dominated the set 25-14.
Freshman hitter McKyla Brooks had her hands on the ball often in the second set, as the freshman recorded four kills and two blocking assists, allowing Stony Brook to win the second set with ease.
Head coach Coley Pawlikowski’s team struggled against the Hawks in the third set as Stony Brook lost the set 17-25. The Seawolves had trouble containing Hartford’s sophomore outside hitter Kathy Henchy, as she had eight total points in the third set.
Serving errors were also a problem for the Seawolves, who missed six of their serves in the set. Redshirt senior Lo Hathaway, normally the Seawolves defensive specialist or libero, played outside hitter for the majority of the set.
“Just wanted to bring some energy to the court and do something different,” Pawlikowski said. “We were flat at that point, let’s just put her in see if we can get a spark.”
Going into the fourth set, Pawlikowski decided to make a change in the lineup, moving senior Nicole Vogel, who started the game at libero, back to setter and sat freshman setter Morgan Kath in the fourth set.
This was Kath’s third game back from injury. Hathaway also switched her jersey and went in at the libero position for the fourth set.
“Set three was not the best so we just made a total change,” Pawlikowski said when asked about the lineup changes. Led by Vogel’s 13 assists in the set, the Seawolves won the fourth set 25-14, clinching a playoff berth.
At the end of the third and fourth sets, Stony Brook’s leader in kills Fletcher was not on the court.
“When she struggles we just minimize her role a little bit and let her focus on her attacking game and her defense at the net rather than the complete six rotation,” Pawlikowski said.
Four of Stony Brook’s hitters, McFadden, Brooks, Fletcher and Wilson all had double digit kills in the victory.
With the victory, the Seawolves earned a three seed in the America East playoffs and will head to New Hampshire on Friday, Nov. 20 for their first-round match against Albany.
Correction: Nov. 18, 2015
A previous version of this story erroneously reported that the Stony Brook Women’s Volleyball team’s first-round playoff match will take place at Albany. The match will take place at New Hampshire against Albany.