Despite four separate individual career-high performances, the Stony Brook volleyball team was unable to emerge from their last road campaign on the 2016 regular season with a win this weekend, slumping to back-to-back losses against conference leaders Albany and a high-flying Binghamton outfit, falling 3-0 and 3-1 respectively.
First place Albany was always going to be a tough nut to crack at home, and after a tussle of a first set, the Seawolves eventually succumbed, 28-26. The Great Danes had the Seawolves reeling.
The second and third sets were mirror images of one another, as Stony Brook dug itself into nearly insurmountable holes early on. Career-high games from freshman outside hitter Jordan Gels and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Emily Costello, who notched 14 and nine kills respectively, were not enough to help Stony Brook escape. The task proved too tough for the Seawolves to surmount, falling in straight sets: 28-26, 25-19, 25-20.
Picking itself back up, Stony Brook was determined to make a stronger showing against Binghamton, a team riding high on a four-game winning streak. Last time out against the Bearcats, the Seawolves were able to topple the girls in green in four sets. However, to do the same away from home, a mere 24 hours after their loss to the Great Danes, would be a far more trying task.
After a back-and-forth battle with both teams trading blows, a six-point run by the Bearcats made way for a blowout first set, as Binghamton took 16 of the next 20 points to take a 25-16 game. The Seawolves needed to show composure if they wanted to bring anything away from the road trip, and the young team didn’t disappoint. They took the lead midway through the second and never looked back, closing out the set impressively, 25-22.
Stony Brook dropped the important third set, 25-18, losing the momentum it had gained in the second game. Errors again began to plague the Seawolves as the team began the fourth set, when they gifted the Bearcats valuable points early. Soon, Stony Brook was on the wrong end of a five-point deficit, with Binghamton poised to take the match and improve its winning streak to five games on the trot.
However, the Seawolves made a strong fight back, winning eight of the next nine points off a stellar string of service from Costello to fight their way back into the match. Neither team was able to capitalize on a multitude of match-points and the set went down the wire. The fresh Bearcats eventually took three straight points to topple the Seawolves, 30-28, denying them the opportunity of a fifth set and taking the match.
Despite the disappointing result, individual performances impressed yet again, with Costello backing up her standout Friday night performance with a new career-high 15 kills to lead Stony Brook, while freshman opposite hitter Maria Poole chipped in with 13 kills of her own. Freshman setter Leanne Sakowicz was perhaps the most outstanding player for the Seawolves, starting over sophomore Morgan Kath in the role, as she obliterated her career high in assists with 47 against the Bearcats to lead all players.
With so much individual talent on show, team cohesion is going to be the name of the game for the Seawolves as the end of the regular season rapidly approaches. Now out of playoff contention, Stony Brook will take on Fairfield on Nov. 9 at Pritchard Gymnasium to kick off a string of three home games.