Stony Brook Volleyball returned home against the UMass Lowell River Hawks on Friday night in dominating fashion, winning the match in straight sets.
“I think there were some things that we did really well,” head coach Kristin Belzung said. “We talked about managing the errors. I think we were a little error happy from the service line at least in the first two sets. But other than that we took care of making some adjustments as the match went on, and I thought we did a much better job, especially in that third set, of keeping the pressure on the team and doing a good job building leads.”
The Seawolves started off the night in control by capitalizing off the River Hawks’ mistakes. The Hawks made 10 attack errors in the first set alone, allowing the Seawolves to go on a 14-3 run to start off the set. When it seemed like the Hawks would mount a comeback, Belzung reminded the team to keep up the attack, which ultimately led to the Seawolves winning the first set 25-17.
UMass played on par with Stony Brook in the second set. Both teams traded long volleys, and neither gained a clear advantage as the set progressed. Coming off a timeout after being down 23-22, senior middle blocker Cydney Bowman and sophomore outside hitter Jordan Gels teamed up to block a River Hawks shot to tie the game. The Seawolves capitalized off another attack error by UMass to take the lead, and sophomore outside hitter Maria Poole found a hole in the Hawks’ setting to get the set-winning kill.
“We were very locked in [the set] and focused on playing our game and executing our game plan,” Poole, who led the team with 10 kills in the game, said. “We were trying not to do more than what we should because we know from experience, if we just play our game, then we can do it. We had a lot of ups and downs, but we executed good in the end and that’s what gave us the win.”
The Seawolves used the momentum from the second set to control set three from start to finish. After gaining a lead they would not relinquish, the team went on a 16-5 run, and finished the game strong with an impressive 25-11 win.
Friday night’s match was the first home game for the team since Oct. 10 against Iona. Both coaches and players were eager to play for the home crowd once again.
“It’s been a long period off on the road but it is really nice to be back home and have our own audience cheering for us. It feels good,” Poole said. “I love the audience, it brought us a lot of energy today, and I feel like we needed that today as well.”
The Seawolves will look to carry this momentum when they face New Hampshire on Sunday, Nov. 5, for their second of four home games to finish the regular season.
“Sunday is going to be a big one,” Belzung said. “Just getting our team mentally prepared was a big thing heading into that third set in order to build momentum heading into Sunday, and I think we did a good job with that. I think everybody knows that is a big match for us in the conference standings so I think our team is going to be locked in. It is only a matter of will we be willing to execute.”
Sunday’s match against the Wildcats is set to start at 12 p.m. at Pritchard Gymmasium.