For the third consecutive weekend, the Stony Brook volleyball team won two of three matches, improving its record to 6-8 at the Maryland Invitational in College Park on Friday, Sept. 17 and Saturday, Sept. 18. The Seawolves beat Columbia and Akron while dropping one to host Maryland, who swept the entire weekend to remain undefeated at 12-0.
Multiple Stony Brook players set or matched career highs in kills during the tournament — redshirt junior middle blocker Enitan Omolewa recorded 15 kills in the final game, junior outside hitter Amiyah De’Long had 17 in the first game and sophomore outside hitter Leoni Kunz had 20 in the final game.
“Overall, this weekend was a solid finish to our non-conference play,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “I think we really figured some things out and had different people step up in moments, which is a great confidence builder heading into conference. I also thought we were really solid defensively which allowed us to have success in transition. I’m excited to have an entire week of training to get prepared for America East play next weekend.”
Stony Brook opened the weekend by taking their match with the Columbia Lions in four sets on Friday. In addition to De’Long’s strong performance, freshman middle blocker Erin Garr set her own career-highs with 13 kills and 6 aces to lead the team with 19.5 points.
The Seawolves and Lions battled in a tight first set that saw five lead changes, with the largest lead being only three points. Tied at 20-20, both teams traded points until the Lions had a chance to close the set up 25-24, but the Seawolves flipped the script by taking advantage of two Columbia errors and ending their 27-25 win on a kill by Omolewa.
Stony Brook kept the momentum going in the second set by jumping out to an early 11-6 lead thanks to a 5-0 run that featured three service aces from Garr. The Lions cut their deficit to one point at 17-16, but a 6-0 run with two points from Garr and four consecutive Columbia errors gave the Seawolves some late breathing room en route to their 25-19 win.
After a dominant 25-17 Columbia win in set three, the Lions looked to even the match with a 5-0 run to start the fourth set. The Seawolves fought back to tie the set at 10-10 and never trailed after taking a 14-13 lead. While the Lions tied the score at 20, Stony Brook finished the set with a 5-1 run to take the win in their first match.
“The entire match was a bit of a grind offensively, but I thought we continued to make adjustments defensively which kept us in the battle,” Belzung said in a press release. “I also thought we point scored and served well against some of Columbia’s weaker rotations which allowed us a little wiggle room.”
The Seawolves returned on Saturday for two matches, the first of which they lost in straight sets to the hosting Maryland Terrapins, who improved to 11-0 on the season.
Stony Brook managed to keep the first set close prior to the end, trailing by no more than four points until Maryland took a 22-17 lead on an attack error by sophomore middle blocker Abby Campbell. The Terps finished strong to take the first set 25-19.
Set two was even tighter, as leads frequently changed hands with both teams trading early scoring runs. Maryland seemed in control by maintaining a two point lead until the score was 21-19, as three straight kills from Campbell, sophomore setter Torri Henry and De’Long gave Stony Brook a 22-21 lead. The Seawolves couldn’t finish the job, as the Terps ended the set on a 3-0 run for a 25-23 win.
The Seawolves ended the match on a low note, as Maryland dominated the third and final set. Already up 18-10, the Terps went on a 6-0 run which set them up for the 25-12 finish and their ninth sweep of the season.
A five-set win over the Akron Zips later on Saturday capped Stony Brook’s 2-1 weekend. The Seawolves recorded 75 kills, their most in one game since a match with UMBC in November 2018.
The Seawolves maintained an early four-point lead until Akron tied the first set at 16-16 and eventually took a 21-20 lead. Down 23-22, kills from De’Long, Kunz and an Akron attack error propelled Stony Brook to a 25-23 set win.
The Zips weathered an early Stony Brook 5-0 run in set two and used a 6-1 run to take a 16-12 lead. Akron controlled the set from that point on to win 25-19 and even the match.
Stony Brook came out firing in the third set with a 7-2 lead, but Akron worked to cut the deficit to two points. The Seawolves broke the set open with a 7-1 run to extend their lead to 17-9 and maintained their lead for a 25-17 win.
The fourth set again saw the Zips fighting back from an early Stony Brook lead, using a 7-0 run to take a 14-11 lead. The teams traded points until the Seawolves had a chance to end the match up 24-22, when the Zips tied it up to extend the set. Tied at 26, consecutive Akron kills forced a fifth set.
Both teams traded points at the beginning of the final set when a 4-0 run gave the Seawolves a 13-8 lead. The Zips only managed one more point before De’Long and Kunz ended the set 15-9 with consecutive kills to clinch Stony Brook’s third straight 2-1 weekend.
Omolewa set new career bests with 15 kills and a .625 hitting percentage.
After an 0-4 start, the Seawolves have found their stride, winning six out of their last ten as they gear up to start America East play. They will head back to Maryland to face the UMBC Retrievers at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25.