Although the Stony Brook volleyball team is currently led by its youth, the lone senior on the roster, libero Kiani Kerstetter, has been an important fixture of the team over the last four years. In the Seawolves’ final home match of the spring 2021 season, the team celebrated Kerstetter on Senior Night and earned a victory to split a doubleheader with the New Hampshire Wildcats at Pritchard Gymnasium on Sunday, March 14.
“First, I want to acknowledge Kiani and what she has meant to our program these past four years,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “She has been a rock in the back row and has grown into the leader we need her to be this year. I’m sad she couldn’t have had our home crowd in Pritchard for her Senior Night.”
Kerstetter recorded 34 digs in the doubleheader as Stony Brook moved to 3-6 (3-3) on the season.
In the first match, Stony Brook won just one set as New Hampshire started Sunday on top. The Seawolves had a lead late in the first set before three straight attack errors gave the Wildcats a 24-22 lead. Stony Brook was able to tie the score with a service ace from freshman outside hitter Lauren Schmitz, but New Hampshire would take the set 26-24 with the next two points.
New Hampshire pulled ahead midway through in the second set, using a 10-2 run to take a double-digit lead. The Wildcats hit an efficient .393, racking up 13 kills in 28 attempts in a 25-16 win. Stony Brook’s lone set victory came in the third set, when New Hampshire’s attack struggled to finish, allowing the Seawolves to win 25-18.
They could not complete the comeback, falling 25-20 in set four despite scoring the first four points of the frame. In the loss, freshman middle blocker Abby Campbell led her team with 10 kills.
Stony Brook recovered and dominated in the nightcap, sweeping New Hampshire to return back to .500 in conference play.
“I’m proud of our group for bouncing back and earning a split today,” Belzung said. “I wanted to see us be a little more intentional offensively in the second match, and I thought we executed that. It allowed us to put the pressure on UNH and be successful in the transition phase of the game. I also thought we cleaned up and caused more stress from the service line.”
In the second match, the Seawolves hit .330 and committed just 10 errors overall. Schmitz and redshirt-sophomore middle blocker Enitan Omolewa led the team with 10 kills each, while two more players added nine.
Stony Brook dominated set one 25-12 but traded back-and-forth runs with New Hampshire in the second set before Schmitz notched a kill and the Wildcats committed an attack error to give the Seawolves the 26-24 advantage. In the third set, Stony Brook established control early on and Schmitz earned the decisive kill to wrap up the 25-19 win.
All three of the Seawolves’ match victories this season have come via the sweep.
Stony Brook will play four games in Albany over two days next Sunday and Monday, two apiece against the Albany Great Danes and Hartford Hawks.
“We have a tough four matches ahead of us at Albany next weekend that will be a big impact on how things shake out in the conference,” Belzung said.
At 3-3 in conference play, Stony Brook currently occupies the fourth and final spot in the America East playoffs. The first-place Great Danes are 6-0 while the Hawks are 2-0, making the upcoming stretch crucial yet challenging.