What seemed to be a lopsided matchup coming in ultimately came down to the wire as the six-win Stony Brook volleyball team looked to upset Fairfield, who came into the contest winning 18 straight matches, having not lost since Sept. 14.
But instead, the match was remarkably tight. At different points, both teams seemed poised to come out of Pritchard Gymnasium with a victory on Wednesday night.
The Seawolves were able to take the Stags to five sets, but they were not able to capitalize on their early lead. The Stags won the final two sets to end the game, 3-2 (25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 20-25, 16-18).
“I think we did some things today that we haven’t done for a while,” Stony Brook head coach Coley Pawlikowski said. “So that was good to see. A couple steps forward and our goal is just improving every day, we have such a young group that — that’s got to be our focus.”
The Stags looked like they had seized all of the momenta after winning the fourth set. When the fifth set rolled around, the Stags were able to establish an early 5-1 lead.
The Seawolves eventually found themselves down 14-11 when sophomore middle blocker McKyla Brooks earned an ace on a serve that hit the top of the net and rolled right over onto the Stags side which helped the Seawolves stay alive.
Freshman opposite Maria Poole, who had 11 kills in the game, was able to score three straight points for Stony Brook, helping the Seawolves tie the score at 15-all.
A kill by Fairfield junior outside hitter Skyler Day — the match-leading 22nd of her day — helped put the Stags up 16-15. The Seawolves eventually lost the game 18-16 after a kill from the Fairfield freshman setter Manuela Nicolini and an attack error by junior middle blocker Cydney Bowman.
With a playoff berth out of the picture for Stony Brook, there are three matches remaining this season; the Seawolves have lost their sixth straight game and stand at a 6-20 overall record.
The Seawolves had a scare in the first set as sophomore middle blocker Taylor Wilson limped off the court with an ankle injury. Wilson had recorded three kills at that point, helping the Seawolves establish a commanding 13-8 lead. The Stags went on a six-point run after the injury occurred and led the game, 14-13.
Bowman replaced the injured Wilson and was able to help create a momentum swing, recording four kills in the first set, which helped the Seawolves take the first set, 25-21.
Bowman eventually went on to record nine kills in the match.
“She did a good job,” Pawlikowski said. “Taylor went down with her ankle injury and Cyd did a good job of coming in and just staying aggressive.”
Wilson eventually returned to action and was able to help the team continue their aggressive play.
“She came back into the match,” Pawlikowski said. “She just sprained her ankle.”
Brooks came into the match with a hitting percentage of .307 which ranks second in the America East. Brooks continued her success tonight, recording 18 kills and a hitting percentage of .324. Brooks helped win the second set for the Seawolves as she tallied six kills in the game.
“I was very consistent with my game today,” she said. “I knew if I got up fast and hit hard that no one would be able to defend me.”
Brooks recognizes that the Fairfield game is a learning experience and that the team is looking forward to the future.
“I believe that this team we just played is only going to make us better,” Brooks said. “This is the team we’re going to have next year, so we’re going to work toward getting better and just doing what we do best.”
Stony Brook will play the second of its three-match homestand on Friday at 4 p.m. in a conference matchup against Hartford.