Senior outside hitter Jordan Gels attempts to block the ball during a game against Hofstra on Sept. 3. On Sunday against the New Hampshire Wildcats, Gels led all Seawolves with 13 kills. EMMA HARRIS/THE STATESMAN

A frustrating season for the Stony Brook volleyball team continued on Sunday, Oct. 20 when the Seawolves traveled up to Durham and were swept by the New Hampshire Wildcats. After taking down the UMBC Retrievers in three sets last Sunday, beginning a winning streak could have provided strong momentum for the team entering the heart of conference play. Instead, the loss dropped Stony Brook to 7-13 (2-3 AE) as the Seawolves have yet to win back-to-back America East matches this season.

“Today was a grind and we were unable to get ourselves into any kind of rhythm either offensively or defensively,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “New Hampshire did a good job of keeping us off balance but we were not prepared to battle the way we needed to against a team that forces you to earn your points. This week of training will be important to get us prepared for the second round of conference play.”

The first set was initially deadlocked, but it was the Wildcats who pulled ahead first, embarking on a 7-1 run after substituting in freshman outside hitter/libero Katie Jablonski. New Hampshire earned kills by both attacking the backcourt and landing blocks into frontcourt holes. Just when it looked as if Stony Brook was about to get back into it, New Hampshire scored seven in a row to take a 24-14 lead. 

The Seawolves did not help themselves during the run, as five of the points came as a result of their errors. Freshman right side hitter Erin Hedrick got the final kill to give New Hampshire the 25-15 win. Errors were Stony Brook’s biggest enemy, with eight of them against nine kills for a .033 hitting percentage.

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Set two was competitive until the very end and Stony Brook saw their widest lead of the afternoon after senior outside hitter Liz Pulver’s attack was not returned for the kill, putting the Seawolves up 8-4. The lead was lost soon after, but New Hampshire’s lead never grew too large and Stony Brook was able to tie the game up at multiple points. The Seawolves faced a three-point deficit at match point when senior outside hitter Jordan Gels and Pulver recorded kills to make it 24-23. Jablonski won the set for the Wildcats when her attack could not been cleanly blocked.

Stony Brook had to play from behind for almost all of the third set and momentum was never on their side as each point they scored was equally matched by a well-played New Hampshire one. The Seawolves were down by just one as late as 18-17, but it was then that the Wildcats gained separation, ending the set with three straight points to win 25-20 and take the match in three.

New Hampshire’s offensive production on the afternoon was something to be admired, recording 49 kills and only 10 errors for an impressive .386 hitting percentage. In comparison, Stony Brook hit .194 with 40 kills and 19 errors. Gels led all Seawolves with 13 kills, her second double-digit kill performance in her last three matches. Senior setter LeAnne Sakowicz crossed the 3,000 assist mark for her career after 31 on Sunday and her 3,018 career assists rank fourth all-time in program history.

The Seawolves will look to get back in the win column on Friday, Oct. 25 when they take on the Hartford Hawks at the Pritchard Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m. to begin the second round of conference play. In these two teams’ first meeting on Sept. 27, the Hawks ended the Seawolves’ 16-game conference winning streak dating back to 2017.

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