In their final non-conference matchup of the season, the Stony Brook volleyball team defeated the Columbia Lions in four sets on Monday, Sept. 30. Improving their record to 5-11, the Seawolves have no one but America East opponents ahead of them in their regular season schedule.
“We are excited to finish the non-conference slate with a win,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “Our group came in focused and executed the game plan from the start which I thought made Columbia uncomfortable in the first two sets. We got a little error-happy in the third but I’m proud of how we settled in and won the scrappy plays in the fourth set.”
Stony Brook got ahead in the first set after substituting in freshman outside hitter Amiyah De’Long. She immediately recorded two straight service aces and finished off a 5-0 run with a kill to put the Seawolves ahead 9-6. The two teams went back and forth until Stony Brook scored four in a row, bookended by two Columbia errors, and went up 15-10. Senior setter LeAnne Sakowicz earned two consecutive service aces of her own and senior outside hitter Liz Pulver’s attack landed near the Columbia side of the net to give Stony Brook the 25-17 win.
In set two, following a Columbia substitution with the Lions up 7-6, Stony Brook put together a 7-0 run by taking advantage of four Lions attack errors to take a 13-7 lead. The Seawolves had their best offensive performance of the night in the second set, hitting .579 off the back of 12 kills and just one error. On the other hand, Columbia played sloppily with nine errors in the set, leading to a .000 hitting percentage as Stony Brook trounced them 25-13.
The Seawolves’ play temporarily sputtered in the third set, as attack errors, a bad set and a service ace allowance found them in a 5-0 hole early. Stony Brook had to play from behind throughout the entire set and could not whittle their deficit down to lower than three. With the score 21-16 in Columbia’s favor, the Lions racked up four points in a row to take the set 25-16 after a De’Long attack error. The Seawolves hit .125 and committed seven errors in set three alone, accounting for almost half of their match total of 16.
The fourth set was the type of nail-biter that Stony Brook was used to playing in this season, but the Seawolves ended up on the right side of the tension. No team held a lead larger than three, and Stony Brook was in front for the majority of the set. Midway through, Stony Brook and Columbia alternated scoring over an 11-point stretch that saw no team score consecutively. The Lions took the lead back late in the game when three straight points gave them a 21-20 advantage, and then the Seawolves countered with three of their own to go up 23-21.
Two Columbia kills tied the set at 23 before Pulver’s kill put Stony Brook back up by one. On the ensuing match point, Columbia junior setter Audrey Cheng kept her team alive with a kill, but senior middle blocker Rose Compton’s attack error put Stony Brook in the driver’s seat once again. Senior outside hitter Maria Poole took the assist from Sakowicz and forcefully spiked it past a Columbia defender to give the Seawolves the victory – three sets to one.
Stony Brook will return to America East play on Sunday, Oct. 6, when they travel upstate to take on the Binghamton Bearcats in the West Gym in Vestal, New York at 1 p.m.