Stony Brook jumped out to two-set leads in each game of the Stony Brook Invite by Holiday Inn Express, but it was not enough to overcome Bryant on Friday, Sept. 14. The Seawolves recovered to sweep Delaware on Saturday, Sept. 15 and Colgate on Sunday, Sept. 16.
“This is probably the best we’ve executed from start to finish for a match this season,” head coach Kristin Belzung said following Sunday’s three-set victory. “I am really proud of the team, especially after what I thought was not a great execution match for us [against Delaware]. This is our last tune up before [America East] Conference play starts up next weekend… so it was good to see us execute the game plan.”
Game One: Bryant 3, Stony Brook 2
Stony Brook was dominant on the attack in the first two sets against the Bryant Bulldogs Friday evening. The Seawolves only trailed twice starting off the contest, both early in each set. Stony Brook topped Bryant 25-20 in the first set and cruised to a 25-17 second set victory.
The momentum shifted for both teams coming out of the five-minute break, with the Bulldogs frontcourt noticeably playing much more aggressively in the third and fourth sets. The Stony Brook frontcourt seemed turbulent and fumbled several passes late in the third set, handing Bryant the 25-21 third set win.
The Bulldogs pounced on a weakened Seawolves exterior defense and took the 11-4 lead in the fourth set. Senior middle blocker McKyla Brooks, who earned 10th place in Stony Brook all-time career kills with 1,028 in the match, led an incredible offensive display from Stony Brook, as the team battled back to tie the set at 17. The Bulldogs maintained their composure and fought back against the Seawolves, winning the set 25-19 to tie the game at two.
Bryant played at its best in the fifth set, finishing with a .450 team hitting percentage. A kill by redshirt-senior outside hitter Julia Flynn completed the Bulldogs comeback, winning the set 15-13 and the match in five sets.
Game Two: Stony Brook 3, Delaware 0
The Delaware Blue Hens held a four-point lead over Stony Brook in the middle of the first set on Saturday. A kill by Brooks kicked off a Seawolves 6-1 run, giving them a 20-18 lead. The Seawolves shut down the Blue Hens comeback off a kill by junior middle blocker Kendra Harlow, winning the set 25-20.
Harlow excelled on the court despite being used predominantly as a bench player this season and led the team with 9.5 points in the contest, alongside junior outside hitter Jordan Gels. Harlow capitalized on her scoring opportunities throughout the match including spiking a kill through the Delaware defense to give Stony Brook the 25-20 second set victory. Following the victory, the junior discussed taking advantage of the increased playing time the team has awarded her.
“I’m really excited,” Harlow said. “Last year I started to get a little more playing time at the end of the season. And this year, I am just excited to compete, hopefully get another title and help my team to win.”
Delaware held a lead over Stony Brook for the majority of the third set. A bad set by Blue Hens senior setter Abby Skryd gave the Seawolves the lead, one which they would not relinquish. Stony Brook held on to win the third set 25-20, sweeping Delaware.
Game Three: Stony Brook 3, Colgate 0
The Stony Brook frontcourt showcased its most dominant performance to date Sunday afternoon against the Colgate Raiders. The Seawolves finished the first set with a .517 hitting percentage off 18 kills and won, 25-14.
The junior duo of Gels and outside hitter Maria Poole suppressed the sluggish Colgate defense, combining for seven of the fifteen kills in the second set. Poole was a dominant force on the Seawolves offense and led the team with 13 total points and a .571 hitting percentage. Her performance assisted the team in cruising to the 25-14 victory.
Colgate went on a five-point run to cut the Stony Brook lead to 22-20 in the middle of the third set. It would be the closest the Raiders got to tying the game, as the Seawolves concluded the match on a three-point run, winning 25-20 and securing the sweep.
Stony Brook will begin conference action on Friday, Sept. 21 against the Hartford Hawks in West Hartford, Connecticut at 7 p.m.