(ANDREW EICHENHOLZ / THE STATESMAN)
After Friday night’s victory over the Binghamton Bearcats, Stony Brook women’s volleyball was able to secure a spot in the America East playoffs. The team would go on to beat Albany on Sunday. (ANDREW EICHENHOLZ / THE STATESMAN)

On Friday night, Stony Brook women’s volleyball was able to clinch a spot in the America East playoffs in front of a capacity crowd at Pritchard Gymnasium.

In the four set thriller, the Seawolves volleyball team was also able to extend their conference win streak to four matches by defeating the Binghamton Bearcats by a score of 27-25, 25-14, 25-27, 25-17.

In a highly contested first set, Binghamton had a set point opportunity at 25-24, but after an attack error brought the score to 25-25, Taylor Gillie and Kathy Fletcher combined for a block on two consecutive points to take the set for the Seawolves.

Stony Brook seized the momentum from there and never looked back. The team won the second set easily and went into halftime with a 2-0 lead.

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After Binghamton battled back by winning a close third set, Stony Brook won the match in the fourth set by limiting its errors. The Seawolves had just three attack errors in the fourth set.

The Seawolves were led by Fletcher and Melissa Rigo, who both had 17 kills in the match.

Gillie led the team in blocks with seven and Lo Hathaway had 17 digs to lead the Seawolves. Nicole Vogel had 60 assists in the match, tying a career-high for the junior setter.

“[Being a setter] is really about being selfless,” Vogel said. “If they get a kill, it’s my kill. I think that whenever I give them a great ball, it helps them out. The same can be said for the diggers. They don’t get enough credit, either. They give me great balls then I give the hitters great balls, and the team scores points.”

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The Seawolves were sloppy for portions of the match and had eight service errors overall, but for the most part, head coach Coley Pawlikowski was happy with her team’s performance.

“We handled our side of the court and went 100 percent on every ball. In the third set actually when we got away from that, that’s when we dropped that set,” Pawlikowski said. “It felt good to play good volleyball. We haven’t done that in a while so it was a welcome back for our team tonight, because we showed up and it was fun.”

Vogel took away similar optimism from the match.

“I think that when we work as a group we’re really, really good and tonight everybody pulled their weight. We did a really good job playing as a team, having each other’s back,” Vogel said.

The victory avenged a defeat from the team up in Binghamton a couple of weeks ago, a match the Seawolves lost in four sets.

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Pawlikowski added, “I think when we went to Binghamton we lacked effort and we didn’t go 100 percent and I think tonight, that’s something we did different.”

On Sunday, the Seawolves hosted the Albany Great Danes in a matinee.

The two teams met four weeks ago up in Albany, with the Seawolves losing that match in four sets. This time, Stony Brook was able to defeat the Great Danes in four sets.

In a highly contested first set that saw several players diving for digs and grunting for kills, the Seawolves won 25-23, scoring tits final two points of the set on Fletcher spikes.

The Seawolves trailed early on in the second set by 6-3 and 9-5, but were able to rally back into it with a few vicious kills from Fletcher and Evann Slaughter. The Seawolves took a 21-20 lead, forcing UAlbany to take a time-out.

After fending off two set points, Stony Brook finally dropped the second set on an Albany ace, with the score 27-25.

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With the score knotted at 16 in the third set, the Seawolves went on a 8-2 run to make the score 24-18.

On their fourth set point opportunity, Rigo won the set with an ace.

The fourth set was dominated by the Seawolves’ attackers, and Stony Brook won the match with a score of 25-17.

Fletcher and Slaughter led the Seawolves with 21 and 16 kills respectively. For Fletcher, the 21 kills was a career high.

The win against Albany extends the Stony Brook win streak to five matches, after losing four of their previous five matches.

“We had a bit of a slump in the middle of the season because we became complacent with where we were,” Fletcher said. “We had tough love from our coaches to pick it back up.”

The Seawolves, 7-3 in America East play and 17-11 overall, play at New Hampshire on Thursday. New Hampshire is first in the America East standings.

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“We’re excited [for New Hampshire],” Pawlikowski said. “I know that we didn’t give New Hampshire our best when they were here and I think definitely that our team is excited about going into their gym and showing them what we can do, who we are, and what we’re trying to represent.”

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