Stony Brook’s volleyball team won two matches against the Hartford Hawks and split two matches with the Albany Great Danes in a divided four-match series at Albany on Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 22.
The Seawolves started the series with a 3-1 win over the Hawks at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Stony Brook dominated the first set from the start and went on a 13-1 run to take a 14-3 lead. After they were down 21-8, the Hawks went on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to eight. The Seawolves answered with a 4-0 run capped by a service ace from redshirt-sophomore middle blocker Enitan Omolewa to secure a 25-13 set victory.
The second set started off as a back-and-forth affair, but the Seawolves took control with a 14-3 run to take a 19-7 lead. The Hawks fought back and forced a Stony Brook timeout at 21-12, but their effort was too little too late. The two teams traded points before the Seawolves won the set 25-15 due to a Hartford attack error.
The third set was again close at first until the Seawolves went on a 9-1 run to take a 16-9 lead. After using both of their timeouts, the Hawks answered with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to one. The teams traded points until Stony Brook seemed to take control with a 22-19 lead. The Hawks quickly tied the set at 22, however, and finished strong for a 25-23 win.
The Hawks took an early lead in the fourth set, but the Seawolves went on a 9-0 run to take a 10-4 lead. Already up 16-9, Stony Brook went on a 6-1 run to expand their lead to 21-10. The Hawks put a few more points on the board, but Stony Brook won the set 25-15 on freshman outside hitter Leoni Kunz’s 14th kill of the match.
Following their match one win, Stony Brook returned to the court at 7 p.m. to play the Great Danes. Despite winning the first two sets, the Seawolves ultimately lost the match 2-3.
The Seawolves took an early 7-3 lead in the first set and never let it go. A 5-1 run gave Stony Brook an 18-10 lead. The Great Danes managed to cut the deficit to six, but Stony Brook finished on a 4-1 run for a 25-16 win.
The Great Danes took an 11-6 lead in the second set and maintained it for a while. The Seawolves later took advantage of four attack errors from Albany and went on a 9-1 run to take a 21-17 lead. Later up 23-20, the Seawolves finished the second set on two straight kills by Kunz.
The Great Danes took an early 8-2 lead in the third set and maintained it the rest of the way. The Seawolves managed to cut the deficit to four at one point, but couldn’t overcome their 10 errors and ultimately lost the set 17-25.
The fourth set went back and forth all the way up until the score was 13-13. The Great Danes then went on a 5-0 run to take an 18-13 lead. The Seawolves fought back and cut the Great Danes’ lead to 22-20. Albany finished strong, with two of their last three points coming from kills by sophomore outside hitter Kamara Kelly, and won the set 25-21.
The fifth and final set was close from the very beginning, as the teams were tied at 8-8. Both teams then traded 4-0 scoring runs to make the score 12-12. The Great Danes finished on a 3-1 run to win the set 15-13 and complete the comeback.
On Monday, the Seawolves again played Hartford at 3 p.m. and again won 3-1. The Seawolves got out to an early 10-4 lead in the first set. While the Hawks made it a 14-10 game, Stony Brook went back on the attack and extended their lead to 18-11. The Seawolves finished the set on a 5-1 run punctuated by two kills from Kunz to win 25-16.
The second set began with the teams trading points until the score was tied at 9-9. The Seawolves then took a 15-10 lead, but Hartford fought its way back to a tie game at 18-18. Three late Hartford errors assisted Stony Brook’s 7-2 run that earned the Seawolves a 25-20 set win.
The two teams traded scoring runs in the third set before the Hawks broke a 15-15 tie to take a 19-16 lead. The Seawolves brought the game back to a tie at 20-20 before the teams traded points. Tied at 24-24, the Hawks scored on two straight kills to win the third set 26-24.
Down 14-17 in the fourth set, the Seawolves went on an 8-1 run to take a 22-18 lead. The Hawks brought the game back within one point, but the Seawolves shut the door with a 3-0 run for a 25-21 set win and their second win over Hartford.
The Seawolves finished their four-match series later on Monday with a 3-0 win over the Great Danes.
The Great Danes took an early lead and maintained control for most of the first set, but the Seawolves came through at the very end. Down 20-23, Stony Brook went on a 4-0 run to take a 24-23 lead, needing only one more point to end the set. The Great Danes tied the set at 24 and again at 25 before the Seawolves scored two straight to win the first set 27-25.
The Seawolves took a 17-11 lead in the second set, but the Great Danes cut the deficit to one point. Up 20-19, the Seawolves finished on a 5-1 run to win the second set 25-20.
The Seawolves trailed early in the third set but brought the score to an 18-18 tie. The Great Danes scored three straight points, two of which came on Stony Brook errors. The Seawolves again tied the set up at 21-21 before taking a 24-23 lead. Assisted by freshman setter Torri Henry, Omolewa ended the set 25-23 on her 14th kill of the match.
“Coming into this match and performing the way we did was pure determination after a really tough weekend schedule,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “We knew each set was going to be tight, and I thought we executed down the stretch when it mattered. We have struggled to stay focused in the third set, so I’m a proud coach of this effort.”
Over the four-match series, Kunz averaged 14.5 kills per match, Henry averaged 44.5 assists per match and senior libero Kiani Kerstetter averaged 17.25 digs per match.
The Seawolves are 6-7 overall, but 6-4 in conference match and currently in third place in the America East. Only the top two teams qualify for the postseason, however. The UMBC Retrievers are in second place with a 7-3 conference record. UMBC beat Stony Brook twice earlier in the season, so they have the tiebreaker.
To make the postseason, the Seawolves will have to win both of their matches next weekend and they will need the Retrievers to lose both of their matches to Hartford.
“We know we need some help to have a chance at the championship match, but we are focused on controlling the things we can,” Belzung said. “This has been a theme throughout this year for us. I’m excited about the growth and progress of our young team. We are excited to finish out the regular season next weekend at Binghamton, and hopefully earn an opportunity for a championship match.”
Stony Brook’s final regular season matches will take place on the road against the winless Binghamton Bearcats at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 28.