The Stony Brook volleyball team was swept in its home opener on Saturday, Feb. 20 against the Towson Tigers and on the road against the Hofstra Pride on Sunday, Feb. 21.
The Seawolves opened the weekend in Pritchard Gymnasium as they looked to build off their close five-set loss last weekend to St. John’s. The 2019 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) champion Towson Tigers proved to be a tough test for Stony Brook.
“Towson is a really good team that scrapped really well defensively and put our attackers on their heels,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release.
Both teams traded points early in the first set before Towson jumped out to a 12-8 lead. After a Stony Brook timeout, Towson’s lead grew to 19-11. Stony Brook went on a 5-0 run powered by freshman setter Torri Henry’s strong serves. While the Seawolves cut the deficit to three points, Towson quickly regained control and won the set 25-18.
To start the second set, Stony Brook and Towson again exchanged points before Towson took a commanding 14-9 lead. Stony Brook called a timeout, but Towson showed no signs of slowing down. Towson’s lead extended to 18-10 before a second Stony Brook timeout. The Seawolves showed signs of life following the timeout, but Towson freshman outside hitter Nina Cajic’s strong service run, which included two aces, helped the Tigers close out a 25-15 set victory.
Despite three of Towson’s first four points in the third set coming from Stony Brook errors, the Seawolves jumped out to an 11-6 lead. Following a Towson timeout, Stony Brook extended its lead to 19-13. The Tigers went on a 5-1 run before the Seawolves used a timeout up 20-18. The set was tied at 21-21 and 22-22 before Towson scored three straight points to win the set 25-22 and earn the sweep in their season opener.
Sophomore outside hitter Amiyah De’Long led the Seawolves with eight kills, while senior libero Kiana Kerstetter led the team with 18 digs.
The Seawolves then traveled to face the 1-0 Hofstra Pride Sunday afternoon in the Battle of Long Island.
Hofstra began the first set with a service ace before the two teams took turns going on scoring runs. After a 12-12 tie, Hofstra took a 16-13 lead and forced a Stony Brook timeout. The Pride stayed on the attack and extended their lead to 20-15 before Stony Brook used its second timeout. Hofstra finished on a 5-1 run, capped off by an emphatic kill by freshman outside hitter Bianca Bucciarelli to win the set 25-16.
The second set opened on a Hofstra 4-0 run, which led to an early Stony Brook timeout. The Seawolves made a push and forced a Hofstra timeout while they were up 10-7. Hofstra regained momentum after their timeout and briefly maintained a five point lead. After cutting the deficit to one, Stony Brook allowed two straight points and called a timeout down 19-16. Hofstra kept its momentum out of the timeout and won the set 25-20 on a strong spike from senior outside hitter Ana Martinovic.
Stony Brook and Hofstra went back and forth to start the third set before the Seawolves took a timeout down 8-4. Following the timeout, they traded points again until Hofstra started to take over and forced another Stony Brook timeout down 15-10. The Pride stayed hot and ended the set on an impressive 12-1 run to win the set 25-11 and complete the sweep.
Stony Brook committed 21 errors compared to Hofstra’s seven. Redshirt-sophomore middle blocker Nia Wattley led the Seawolves with eight kills and Henry had a team-high nine digs.
“Our group needs to learn quickly that some teams will force us into multiple swings before we’re able to earn a point,” Belzung said. “Some of that comes with experience, which we can only get by competing more. But some comes with a gritty mentality, and I think we can step it up in that area.”
Now at 0-3, Stony Brook will face the UMBC Retrievers in Pritchard Gymnasium on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. and Feb. 28 at 11 a.m.