ERIC SCHMID/THE STATESMAN
Stony Brook fell in two games in the Seawolves Invitational, dropping their record to 3-12 with one game left before conference play begins Friday night. ERIC SCHMID/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook was able to snap a six-match losing streak against Columbia on Friday night at Pritchard Gymnasium, as they won the match 25-21, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, in a very closely contested Seawolves Invite affair against the Ivy League visitors.

Senior middle blocker Stephanie McFadden was efficient on the attack, hammering home 13 kills with only three errors. She had a strong net-presence on the defensive end as well, helping on three blocks as the Seawolves claimed their third victory of the season.

“Tonight’s win was a team win. We came into the game knowing that we had to work together as a team, and I think that’s what we did collectively,” McFadden said after the victory. “Everybody had each other’s back and it just felt free and fun.”

Senior outside hitter Kathy Fletcher had a match-high 17 kills and a team-high 14 digs in the win, while freshman setter Morgan Kath had 44 assists, 12 digs and four blocks. Kath has shown defensive versatility this season, being used as both a blocker and a digger.

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McFadden noted Kath’s importance to the offense, saying that the reason for her efficiency was “100% the passing and the setting.”

“I knew that when I went up for the ball that the back row was going to have my back,” McFadden said. “It’s one of those things where you can jump up and swing as hard as you can because you know the person behind you is going to get it up if it’s blocked.”

Freshman middle blocker Luciana Del Valle led the Lions and had 16 kills in the match. Senior middle blocker Katarina Jovicic added 10 kills, while junior libero Cassie Wes had a match-high 19 digs for Columbia.

“Columbia played a good game,” Pawlikowski said. “They made adjustments that were putting them in better positions, but we responded to that rather than letting it rattle us.”

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The Seawolves were able to win the first set 25-21 after a pair of kills from freshman outside hitter Taylor Wilson and McFadden closed it out, but the Lions posed more of a challenge in the second set.

Stony Brook had just 10 kills with 12 errors in set 2, as the cerebral Ivy foes adjusted their strategy. Columbia reigned victorious in the set, taking it by a score of 25-22 to tie the match at a set apiece heading into halftime.

One of the ways Stony Brook responded to Columbia’s changing schemes in the second half was by defending the Lions’ attacks more aggressively at the net. In the first two sets, the Seawolves had just one block as a team. After the break, the defense fortified their front-line, stuffing their opponents eight times in the second half.

The Seawolves used the stronger defense to win the third set 25-23, before claiming the match by winning set four by a score of 25-21. The match-ending exclamation point was drawn by McFadden, as she spiked the final ball of the night, prompting roars from the home crowd.

Earlier in the day, fortunes were not as bright for the Seawolves, as they dropped a four-set match to the visiting Rhode Island Rams by a score of 25-15, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15.

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Stony Brook was badly out-attacked by Rhode Island in the match. The Seawolves’ had a miserable .096 attack percentage, while their opponents hit .303 in the matinee.

One of the bright spots for the Seawolves in the match was the play of freshman middle blocker McKyla Brooks. She almost single-handedly kept Stony Brook competitive in the match, with 15 kills and only seven errors. McFadden was also efficient in the match, with 11 kills and one error.

McFadden had three service aces in the day’s first match and six total in the double-header. The California native has 0.68 aces per set this season, placing her in the top five in the NCAA in serving.

The Rams are part of a very difficult non-conference schedule for the Seawolves that Coach Pawlikowski hopes can help the team as they prepare for America East play beginning Sept. 25 against UMBC.

“We’re playing a challenging schedule,” Pawlikowski said. “I think this is confidently the toughest schedule that Stony Brook volleyball has ever played… That’s the point, to face adversity and to face good teams. We hope that in the future, that in hindsight, this will have made us better.”

Fletcher had 15 kills were not enough as the Seawolves fell to the Army West Point Black Knights 3-1 Saturday afternoon.

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Fletcher kept the Seawolves in the first set.  Her five kills kept them within two of the Black Knights for most of the set. However, a late breakdown in the first set was the turning point for Stony Brook.

After putting the Seawolves up two with her first kill of the game, Wilson committed an attack error, bringing Army West Point within one.  This began a four point run that gave the Black Knights a 23-21 lead.  Fletcher managed to tie the game up at 23, and later senior middle blocker tied it up at 24.

But Army West Point’s attack was too much for Stony Brook. They took the set 26-24, after back to back kills by sophomore outside hitter Jaden Pickell.

Although they were down a set, the Seawolves were not out. Wilson came into the second set with just a kill on the day.  Her five kills made the difference as the Seawolves took the set 25-22.

Wilson also saved the Seawolves’ momentum.  Midway through the second set, the Black Knights’ sophomore middle blocker Vanessa Wesley’s vicious spike riled up the crowd in Pritchard Gym.  But Wilson answered right back with a kill of her own, giving the Seawolves a 13-11 lead.

The Seawolves’ resiliency was on full display during the fourth set. Kath started the set off on a positive note with her second ace of the game.  However, sloppiness impeded what looked to be a breakaway start.

Sophomore outside hitter Melann Amory committed two attack errors to tied the game at 2.  But the Seawolves rallied from Amory’s mistakes with a three-point run.  With a 7-3 lead, it looked as if Stony Brook was going to push the game to five sets.

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Army West Point had a different idea, however.  An attack error by Brooks jump started a seven-point Black Knights run.  When Kath ended the run with a block, Army West Point was up 10-8.

A three-point run gave the Black Knights a 20-16 lead.  They eventually took the set 25-22.

Even though the Seawolves kept the Black Knights in check, runs were their downfall.  During the third set, there were five ties within the first ten fifteen points of the set.  But Army West Point’s five-point run put them ahead 15-10.

The Seawolves answered back with a four point run of their own, bringing the game to 15-14.  Army West Point ended the set with a three-point run, taking it 25-18.

Up next for the Seawolves is a Tuesday night match at Fordham on Sept. 22 at 7:00 p.m.  They will end the month with some America East action, as they take on UMBC on Sept. 25 at 7:00 p.m. in Pritchard Gym.  

Skyler Gilbert

Skyler is a junior journalism major and political science minor. He began writing for The Statesman in fall of 2014 and has since covered every Stony Brook sport, including men's basketball and women's lacrosse NCAA Tournament games in Des Moines and Boston, respectively. He hails from Ticonderoga, which is a real place, and hopes to someday achieve fame as a national sports reporter. He can tune a fife, but he can't tuna fish. His twitter is @SkylerJGilbert. Contact Skyler at: [email protected]

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