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Stony Brook women’s volleyball takes hard-fought defeat by St. John’s in five sets

The Stony Brook volleyball team in October of 2019. The team lost its season opener to St. Johns on Feb. 14. DESHAUN ROBINSON/STATESMAN FILE

As the first of the fall sports to play in the spring, the Stony Brook volleyball team competed hard against a Big East opponent in the St. John’s Red Storm, but ultimately dropped its season opener in a closely fought five-set affair on Feb. 14.

“Just having the opportunity to compete today felt really good,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “There were a lot of new faces on the court for us. And while we would’ve loved to walk out with a win, this is a great starting point for us.”

Stony Brook jumped in front early, scoring seven of the first eight points in the first set in a stretch that saw St. John’s commit three errors. Belzung called a timeout after Stony Brook’s lead shrunk to one. From there on out, the Seawolves were able to close out strong and earn a 25-21 set victory from St. John’s senior setter Tiziana Baumrukova.

The two teams exchanged points throughout most of the second set. When the Red Storm appeared to gain momentum with four straight points to go up 20-16, Belzung used a timeout and the Seawolves responded with three points in a row of their own before grabbing the lead. However, they could not close out. Up 28-27 and needing just one more point for the set victory, Stony Brook instead gave up three straight as St. John’s won the second set 30-28 to tie the match at one apiece.

The third set was also evenly matched, with neither team gaining a lead larger than three points. Stony Brook earned the 25-23 win late off another St. John’s attack error. However, the Red Storm forced a fifth set with a dominant 10-2 run to end set four 25-15.

In the fifth set, the Seawolves came back from a three-point deficit and grabbed an 11-9 lead after a service ace from redshirt-sophomore middle blocker Enitan Omolewa. St. John’s then scored six points in a row to seal the match in their favor, with five Stony Brook errors in that stretch leading to the Seawolves’ defeat.

Making their collegiate debuts, freshmen outside hitters Lauren Schmitz and Leoni Kunz led their team with 14 kills each.

“We were balanced offensively, which I think will be a big strength for us, especially for how dynamic our attackers are,” Belzung said. “We are looking forward to a week to train before our home opener on Saturday against a really good Towson team.”

Stony Brook will face the Towson Tigers in Pritchard Gymnasium on Feb. 20 at 11 a.m.

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