In the middle of a five-game homestand, the Stony Brook volleyball team improved its record to 4-6 by winning two of three matches in the Stony Brook Invitational on Friday, Sept. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 11 at Pritchard Gymnasium.
Throughout the weekend, several Seawolves contributed to the team’s offensive efforts, with at least seven different players recording a kill in each match.
“Everybody wants to have a little bit of success,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in an interview with The Statesman. “Especially with a young group, which we have right now, confidence is a big thing. So, having everybody have a little bit of success, now you can fall back on that when maybe you’re struggling. You know that you have the ability to do it because you’ve done it before.”
Stony Brook opened the weekend with a 3-1 victory over the Tarleton State Texans on Friday. The Seawolves opened the first set with a 9-7 lead before breaking the game open with a 5-0 run. The Texans closed the gap down 17-14, but Stony Brook finished strong with four of its final eight points coming on kills from sophomore outside hitter Leoni Kunz for a 25-18 set win.
Set two was much more competitive, as Stony Brook’s early 8-4 lead was the largest lead for either team. The Seawolves maintained a small lead until the Texans briefly took a 16-15 lead with a 3-0 run. Stony Brook answered with its own 3-0 run to retake the lead, but the Texans wasted no time getting it back.
Down 21-19, the Seawolves managed to tie the game four times in the final stretch. Tied at 25-25, consecutive attack errors from Kunz and redshirt junior middle blocker Enitan Omolewa sealed Tarleton’s 27-25 win.
The Seawolves got back on track in set three by allowing only two Tarleton scoring runs which combined for five points. Up 18-13, Stony Brook went on a 6-0 run before a kill from sophomore middle blocker Abby Campbell ended the set at 25-15.
Set four was tighter, but the eight errors sealed the Texans’ fate with the Seawolves committing only one error. Tied at 14-14, the Seawolves went on a 9-4 run, with three points coming on attack errors and another point supplied by a service error. A kill from junior outside hitter Amiyah De’Long and another attack error punctuated the set at 25-20 to seal the match for Stony Brook.
Kunz, sophomore setter Torri Henry and senior outside hitter Hailey Barden each recorded double-doubles and set or matched career-high statistics. Barden set a career-high with 15 kills, Henry recorded a career-high 57 assists while Kunz tied her career-high of 19 kills.
The Seawolves took their early success into Saturday’s battle with the Yale Bulldogs, but were defeated in four sets by the Ivy League heavyweight.
A 7-0 run in set one gave Stony Brook an early 8-2 lead that kept growing. Up 22-13, consecutive kills from Omolewa, De’Long and freshman middle blocker Erin Garr gave the Seawolves a dominant 25-13 set win.
In the second set, the Seawolves led 16-14, but a 6-0 surge gave Yale a four-point lead late. The Seawolves rallied for a 6-1 run to take a 23-22 lead, and with a 28-27 lead, they had a chance to win the set, but the Bulldogs responded for three straight points to capture the set.
Set three was Yale’s from the start, as their early 9-1 lead expanded to 19-6 before a 5-0 run ended their 25-10 set win.
The fourth set was more competitive with the score tied at 14-14, but the Bulldogs took control with a 7-1 run. A service error from Henry and an ace from junior setter Renee Shultz finished the set at 25-18 and clinched Yale’s 3-1 win.
The Seawolves bounced back on Saturday by sweeping their last match of the weekend against the St. Thomas Tommies.
“It was about the reaction to that loss this afternoon that was important,” Belzung said. “Whether you can show up and bounce back from that is the most important piece, and we took it as an opportunity to test our discipline, come out on fire and put a stamp on this weekend. I’m proud of our group for doing that.”
The opening set went back-and-forth early on, but the Seawolves went on a 5-1 run after leading 15-14 to take a late five-point lead that they maintained for a 25-20 win.
The Seawolves took an early 7-2 lead in set two and never let go.
Kunz and De’Long took control of the scoring for Stony Brook with five kills each in the set. While the Tommies only trailed three points late, the Seawolves finished their 25-17 win on a 7-2 run with each of the last three kills coming from De’Long and Kunz.
Stony Brook dominated the third set from the get-go with a 13-4 lead. A wild rally that ended in an accidental kill from graduate libero Kiani Kerstetter put the Seawolves ahead 16-6 as it seemed everything was going their way. Garr finished with three kills while redshirt junior middle blocker Nia Wattley tied her season-high with four kills in her only set of the weekend. The 25-10 set win and sweep was capped by De’Long’s 12th kill of the match.
De’Long hit a season-high 0.476 against the Tommies and led the Seawolves with 28 combined kills on Saturday.
“This afternoon was a little rough for us, but bouncing back and winning 3-0 was really good for us,” De’Long said in an interview with The Statesman. “If we just play our game and we’re not worried about the other side, we’re good.”
The Seawolves have now won four of their last seven matches as they look to tighten up their play before conference play starts on Sept. 25 against UMBC.
Stony Brook will look to build on its momentum against the St. John’s Red Storm on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at Pritchard Gymnasium.