It was only one point to win the second set for the Stony Brook Women’s Volleyball team. The crowd waited with bated breath as the ball dropped from near the Pritchard Gymnasium ceiling to what seemed like an empty space. Senior setter Nicole Vogel lunged for the ball and bumped a controlled set across the court to redshirt senior outside hitter Kathy Fletcher, who spiked the ball onto UMass Lowell’s side of the court. What seemed like a lost point turned into a set-winning point for the Seawolves.
“I like to pride myself on my bump setting,” Vogel said.
That level of expertise was on display all night, as the Stony Brook Seawolves Women’s Volleyball team defeated the River Hawks in straight sets, winning 25-12, 25-18 and 25-14.
In the first set, the Seawolves were able to extend point thanks to their defense. Vogel and sophomore outside hitter Melann Amory came up big with five digs apiece. Although blocking was nonexistent in the first set for both teams, Stony Brook’s ability to keep attacking UMass Lowell wore out the River Hawks.
Offensively, the Seawolves were balanced. All players in the first set, with the exception of redshirt senior Lo Hathaway, had at least a single kill. Fletcher, along with the freshmen duo of middle hitter McKyla Brooks and middle blocker Taylor Wilson, led the team with three kills in the set.
Although the final moments of the second set were dramatic, the lead up was just as important. UMass Lowell jumped out to an early 5-3 lead, their largest lead in either set of the match up to that point. Stony Brook came back as Fletcher jump-started the team with two consecutive kills.
But, the River Hawks refused to go away. They managed to tie the game up three times after Fletcher’s kills. It was all in vain, however, as the Seawolves went on a five-point run to take the set, 25-18.
Stony Brook was on fire in the third set. Senior blocker Stephanie McFadden led an eight-point run to start it off for the Seawolves. The River Hawks tried to get back into the game, but could only get within four points of the Seawolves.
A seven-point run by Stony Brook brought them to a 22-10 lead. UMass Lowell ended its drought with a kill from freshman outside hitter Haley Shimon. But a service error and a Fletcher kill brought it to match point for the Seawolves.
UMass Lowell tried to stay alive with junior middle blocker Lauren Bennett starting off a three-point run for the River Hawks, and Seawolves’ sophomore middle blocker Cydney Bowman committing two attack errors in the process.
However, UMass Lowell junior setter Alexa Toth committed a service error that cost them the game, 25-14, and the match, 3-0.
Vogel had herself quite the night as she recorded a double-double consisting of 40 assists and 13 digs. She has had 40 or more assists in three of her past four matches.
“Over the summer I was training as a [defensive specialist],” Vogel said. “So I went to Europe with coaches and I played libero so that definitely helped with my defense.”
Wilson also had a big game for the Seawolves. The freshman had nine kills, eight digs and an ace.
“We’re starting to wind down in the season and at the beginning of the season I was making those freshman errors,” Wilson said. “So now that I can get in the gym everyday and eliminate the freshman errors and just play volleyball. It’s a lot more fun and a lot better.”
The Seawolves are certainly peaking at the right time. Of its last 11 games, Stony Brook has won eight of them.
“Our preseason prepared us for where we’re at right now,” head coach Coley Pawlikowski said. “I think our group’s definitely faced some adversity and we’ve definitely learned and grown together.”
Up next for the Seawolves is a road trip that takes them to Albany to play the rival Great Danes on Nov. 6. Afterwards, they face Binghamton on the road on Nov. 7.