The Stony Brook volleyball team clinched an America East playoff berth with a win in straight sets over the Hartford Hawks on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Pritchard Gymnasium.
After falling to third place after last weekend’s loss to New Hampshire, the Seawolves 12-11 (6-3 AE) regained control of second place and punched their ticket to the postseason after missing the playoffs last season.
The Seawolves jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first set thanks to a 5-1 run driven by three kills from junior outside hitter Amiyah De’Long. Stony Brook’s lead extended to six points, but the Hawks shortened it to 16-15 with a 7-2 run. The Seawolves quickly took over with an 8-0 run, led by a kill and two service aces by freshman outside hitter Erin Garr. A kill by sophomore outside hitter Leoni Kunz punctuated Stony Brook’s 25-16 set one win.
The second set started similarly, with the Seawolves taking an 11-6 lead, but they kept the pressure on and extended their lead to 16-9. The Hawks fought to cut their deficit to four points, but the Seawolves brought their lead back to seven points and held it for a 25-18 set two victory.
Hartford’s first lead of the match came at the start of the third set, but the Seawolves worked to tie it at 5-5 before trading points until 14-14 when two kills from De’Long led a Stony Brook 3-0 run. The Hawks answered with a 4-0 run to take an 18-17 lead before the Seawolves took control with a 6-1 run, which saw Hartford commit four errors. Two kills from Garr clinched the Seawolves’ 25-21 set three win and match sweep.
“We did a great job executing the game plan throughout the match today,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “I thought our decision making as attackers was really good. I also thought we made several defensive adjustments throughout the match to put us in better situations as the day went on.”
De’Long led the Seawolves with 12 kills and a season-high-tying .478 hitting percentage, while Kunz recorded 11 kills and was one dig shy of her eighth double-double this season. The Seawolves posted their third highest hitting percentage of the season with .318 while committing only 11 errors, which is tied for their second fewest error total this season.
The Seawolves will not be hosting the America East Championship tournament, as the reigning champion UMBC Retrievers (15-10, 10-0 AE) clinched first place when they beat the Hawks in four sets on Friday, Oct. 29. But Stony Brook will have a chance to win their first championship since 2018 and third under Belzung.
The Seawolves still have three regular season games remaining to hold on to second place before the start of the tournament. Stony Brook will face the Albany Great Danes on Friday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. in Pritchard Gymnasium before traveling to play the NJIT Highlanders on Sunday, Nov. 7.