Now on a three-game win streak, the Stony Brook volleyball team moved to 10-10 (4-2 AE) with wins against the NJIT Highlanders and Binghamton Bearcats at Pritchard Gymnasium on Friday, Oct. 15 and Sunday, Oct. 17.
The Seawolves put on a show for their home fans, winning both matches in straight sets and allowing fewer than 20 points in each set.
“I think we needed a couple of good, solid execution matches,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in an interview with The Statesman. “We’ve got a really tough road weekend next weekend, but we’re doing what we need to do to put ourselves in the best position to win a championship.”
The weekend started Friday night with a dominant sweep of the Highlanders.
After falling behind 4-1 to start the first set, the Seawolves found their footing and used a 7-1 run to take an 8-5 lead. The Seawolves never trailed after that point, as they were able to take advantage of 10 NJIT attack errors. Following an NJIT timeout down 15-9, the Seawolves kept the pressure on and used a 4-0 run to expand their lead to 22-11. Stony Brook’s 25-14 set one win ended on an emphatic kill by junior outside hitter Amiyah De’Long, who dominated the frame with five kills.
Both teams traded points to start the second set until a 3-0 Stony Brook run gave the Seawolves a 13-8 lead to force an NJIT timeout. The Seawolves stayed on the attack following the timeout, using a 6-1 run to extend their lead to 22-11. The Highlanders only made four errors in the second set, meaning the Seawolves dominated on the attack. Stony Brook recorded 19 kills in their 25-14 set two win, with each of the last six points coming on kills.
The Seawolves kept their momentum going with a 7-0 run to start the third set, taking advantage of six consecutive NJIT errors. The Highlanders managed to cut the deficit to four points following a timeout, but that was as close as they’d get. Kills from De’Long and sophomore middle blocker Abby Campbell helped bring Stony Brook’s lead back to seven before the Seawolves pulled away even further for their 25-17 win and match sweep.
The Seawolves forced NJIT into 23 errors while committing only 12, tied for their third fewest total in a match this season.
“I thought we got a little high-error in the third set, but in general we put that as a focus,” Belzung said. “I thought we needed to play clean to get what we wanted out of tonight. We challenged the team to start really well in that third set and obviously, we jumped out to that 7-0 run, so that was exciting. It put us in a position where we didn’t have to be as clean through the rest of the set because we started so strong.”
Redshirt junior middle blocker Enitan Omolewa led the Seawolves with 14 points, while De’Long, who missed last week’s game against New Hampshire, had a team-high 11 kills.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be ready to go,” De’Long said in an interview with The Statesman. “It was fun to get back in and just kill balls and be with my team again on the court.”
The Seawolves returned to Pritchard Gymnasium on Sunday and continued their great play against the Bearcats.
The first set began with each team trading points until a 9-9 tie, when the Seawolves jumped ahead with a 5-0 run. Stony Brook stayed in control, with its next seven points coming on kills, with De’Long supplying three and sophomore outside hitter adding two in that stretch. A 3-0 run put the Seawolves ahead 21-15 and forced Binghamton’s second timeout. The Seawolves took advantage of three late Binghamton errors to help finish their 25-19 win in set one.
Stony Brook got ahead early in the second set, as a 3-0 run forced a Binghamton timeout down 9-4. The Seawolves kept scoring out of the timeout, extending their lead to 13-5 before the Bearcats got back on track. Four Stony Brook errors helped Binghamton go on a 5-1 run to cut the deficit to four points, but the Seawolves worked to extend their lead and forced another timeout at 19-13. Binghamton’s final point came on a service error from De’Long before the Seawolves ended their 25-14 set two win on a 5-0 run.
The Seawolves came out firing in the third set, as three early kills from sophomore outside hitter Leoni Kunz helped the Seawolves to an 11-5 lead. Following a Binghamton timeout, the Seawolves scored four more unanswered points and forced another timeout at 15-5. The Bearcats clawed away for a few points, but Seawolves remained in control for the rest of their 25-11 sweep-clinching set three win.
De’Long’s 11 kills were tied for the team lead and she led the Seawolves with a season-high 0.478 hitting percentage. Campbell also posted 11 kills and led the team with 12 points.
“This weekend we had a couple of great team wins where we worked really well together,” Campbell said in an interview with The Statesman. “The energy in Prichard was great. Last season, we didn’t get to experience it that much, so having that this year has been a lot of fun.”
After an 0-4 start, the Seawolves are now a .500 team for the first time this season. Stony Brook has now won three straight matches and sits at second place in the America East with six matches remaining.
“I think what you’ve seen over these last four matches is team efforts to get us the wins that we need,” Belzung said. “I think our defense has really improved. I think we’ve taken a little more pride in our defense and that’s given us the offensive success that we were having in the beginning of the season from just service situations.”
Following a three-game homestand, the Seawolves will hit the road to face the Hartford Hawks on Friday, Oct. 22 before traveling to play the New Hampshire Wildcats on Sunday, Oct. 24.