After a slow start, the Stony Brook Volleyball team found its focus and cruised in straight sets over visiting Binghamton Friday night by a score of 25-21, 25-18, 25-23. The victory marks the Seawolves’ fourth consecutive sweep and gives them a 3-0 America East record, tied with New Hampshire for first in the conference.
The Bearcats came out of the gates with a lot of energy and used an 11-1 run to give themselves a 12-6 first set lead. Rather than panic, the Seawolves called timeout, regrouped and chipped away at the Binghamton lead.
“Today when we trailed [in the first set], we never lost confidence, we never lost focus,” senior outside hitter Kathy Fletcher said. “We came back by playing our type of volleyball.”
Stony Brook took the lead in the first set at 19-18 off of a pair of aces from freshman outside hitter Taylor Wilson. Fletcher slammed a kill from the left flank at 24-21 and the very next point, she hit an ace to give the Seawolves the opening set.
The kill was just one of Fletcher’s 16 in the match. Coupled with just two attack errors, it was the most efficient game of the season for Fletcher, who hit .424 in the match. Fletcher has 233 kills to lead the conference this season, but she credited her teammates for Friday’s success.
“When we’re able to pass, and we start running our middles, it opens up our outsides a lot,” Fletcher said. “When we’re running around our middles, the [opponent] blockers don’t know where to go.
“That let’s me have more opportunities to score out, which is pretty nice,” she added with a chuckle.
Stony Brook controlled the rest of the match, running their offense like a well-oiled machine. The Seawolves were particularly dominant in the second set, when they hit for a sizzling .485 percentage.
“We stayed in system a lot and our attackers did a really good job of putting themselves in good position,” head coach Coley Pawlikowski said. “They took much smarter shots, much smarter swings tonight… We were getting a lot of high hands and hitting corners. It was good to see it come together.”
Freshman middle blocker McKyla Brooks continued her torrid rookie campaign with nine kills and one error. Brooks leads the America East with a .314 hitting percentage on the season.
Sophomore middle blocker Kristella Morina had a perfect night for the Bearcats, spiking nine kills without an error. Morina was also a force at the service stripe, where she hit three aces.
Freshman outside hitter Erin Shultz chipped in ten kills for Binghamton, while junior libero Bailey Walker had nine digs, tying the match-high with Stony Brook senior libero Lo Hathaway.
Senior setter Nicole Vogel had 33 assists and six digs for the Seawolves. Stony Brook has not lost a set since Vogel was put in as setter following freshman Morgan Kath’s ankle injury on September 25.
The Seawolves had not won four consecutive straight-set matches since 2002, when Stony Brook swept Providence, Bucknell, St. Francis and Sacred Heart.
“For me, it’s not about the sweeps, it’s that we’re getting better every single match,” Pawlikowski said. “Our tough non-conference schedule prepared us for where we are now.”
Stony Brook’s next match will be a Sunday rivalry match at Pritchard Gymnasium. The Albany Great Danes come to visit for a 1 p.m. first serve. The Great Danes sport a 3-1 conference record this season, beating UMBC in five sets Friday.
“It’s going to be high-energy, high-competition,” Fletcher said. “They’re always a really good match. No matter how each of us are doing every year… we both bring our best when we play each other. I’m really excited.”