The Stony Brook volleyball team recorded an upset victory by sweeping No. 1-seeded Albany at University Gym in Albany on Friday night, sending the Seawolves to the America East Championship for the first time since 2011. The win sent shockwaves through the America East Conference, as the No. 4-seeded Seawolves had been touted as the underdogs heading into the match-up.
“Compete with confidence was the emphasis tonight, and I thought you could see that in our eyes from start to finish,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “We are excited for the opportunity to compete for an America East Championship tomorrow.”
Despite both teams going on 4-1 runs, neither team was able to maintain momentum due to several coslty errors. The Seawolves eventually gained a slight three-point lead, which forced Albany to call a timeout. The break in action did not phase the Seawolves, however, as a kill by junior middle blocker McKyla Brooks gave the team a 25-20 victory, ending Albany’s season. Brooks, who led the Seawolves with 16 total kills and five blocks in the game, spoke about how the team was able to surmount the pressure of facing the No. 1-seeded team.
“Coach Belzung always tells us to work through the process,” Brooks said in a postgame interview on the official America East Facebook page. “We knew we were the underdogs coming in here. We knew we were going to fight and Albany was going to fight. We came in with the mentality of let nothing touch the ground, and it’s really great to be able to play again.”
The teams were evenly matched on the attack to start the match, resulting in quick scores. Stony Brook gained its first lead of the game following a block from sophomore setter LeAnne Sakowicz and senior middle blocker Cydney Bowman, putting the team up 16-15. After both teams used their final timeout, the Seawolves capitalized off back-to-back kills from redshirt-junior outside hitter Emily Costello to win the first set 25-20.
After the first-set loss, the Great Danes began the second set with an 11-4 run, forcing the Seawolves to use both of their timeouts. Following the second timeout, the Great Danes began making mistakes on the attack, committing five errors and allowing Stony Brook to come within one point of tying the game.
The Seawolves took their first lead of the second set off a service ace by Sakowicz, putting the team up 18-17. The team kept the momentum and won the second set 25-20 following another pair of back-to-back kills from Costello. She was a standout on the attack, finishing with 12 total kills in the game.
Prior to the match, Albany had been victorious in both regular season meetings against the Seawolves and ended the season on a 10-game win streak. The Great Danes also had a seven-game win streak against the Seawolves, not allowing a Stony Brook win since Nov. 9, 2014.
The Seawolves will look to win their first America East Championship when they take on No.2-seeded Binghamton Saturday, Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. in Albany’s University Gym.