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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook women’s volleyball drops two of three matches at Saint Francis Tournament

Outside hitter Leoni Kunz digs the ball in a game against St. John’s on Sept. 14, 2021. Kunz was the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team’s second-leading scorer in the Saint Francis Tournament. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

More untimely errors plagued the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team in its trip to Pennsylvania.

The Seawolves (2-4) competed in the Saint Francis Tournament in Pennsylvania this past weekend and once again lost two out of three matches to stay under .500. After losing 3-1 to the Purdue Fort Wayne (PFW) Mastodons (3-3) on Friday, Stony Brook swept the Manhattan Jaspers (0-6) in three sets before losing 3-2 to the Saint Francis Red Flash (4-2).

The Seawolves started off hot, winning a competitive first set against PFW 26-24, but they lost the next three sets. The first set consisted of six lead changes and nine ties. After falling behind 4-1, a kill by outside hitter Leoni Kunz off an assist from setter Torri Henry ignited a 6-0 run, giving Stony Brook a 7-4 lead.

The Seawolves held onto this lead until a kill by PFW outside hitter Iris Riegel sparked a 5-1 run giving the Mastodons the lead back. After that, Stony Brook came back to tie the game on four separate occasions, putting the game in a 23-23 situation. A kill by Riegel gave PFW a one-point lead to set up a match point, but outside hitter Kali Moore sparked a 3-0 run with a kill of her own to close the game in the Seawolves’ favor.

Stony Brook controlled the pace of the second set with a lead of 16-14 until three-straight attack errors committed gave PFW a 17-16 lead. From there on, the Mastodons never looked back and went on an 8-3 run to close the game 25-19.

The Mastodons started off hot in the third set, forcing Stony Brook to play catch-up for the entire game. Kunz tried to engineer a comeback, killing a serve from PFW defensive specialist Becky Barrett to spark a 3-0 run to cut the deficit to 22-18. However, PFW outside hitter Maggie Castleman closed the Seawolves’ window of opportunity and led her team on a game-ending 3-0 run to clinch the 25-19 set victory. 

The fourth set began competitively, as both teams were tied 13-13 halfway through. From that point on, there were eight ties and five lead changes. Ultimately the set reached 23-23, where Castleman iced the game for the Mastodons with back-to-back kills and led PFW to the 25-23 set win to secure the match.

Head coach Kristin Belzung gave credit to PFW for displaying versatility in its scoring ability while handing her team a loss.

“[Purdue] Fort Wayne was a high IQ team who stressed our defense with variability and we allowed that to keep us out of rhythm all night,” Belzung said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “I thought we made some good adjustments in the fourth set but weren’t able to push it to a fifth set.”

On Saturday, Stony Brook came back much stronger against Manhattan, sweeping the Jaspers 3-0.

The opening set featured five ties and four lead changes. The Jaspers went on a 4-0 run to take a 13-9 lead, but the Seawolves responded with a 12-3 scoring stretch of their own to go up 21-16. However, they subsequently committed three attacking errors, allowing Manhattan to close the gap to 21-20. Stony Brook snapped its short-lived slump by going on a 4-2 run that was capped off with a set-winning kill by outside hitter Abby Stanwood.

The Seawolves were much more aggressive in the second set, as a kill by Moore ignited a 3-0 run to give them a 10-6 lead. Once Stony Brook took this lead, it never looked back. Manhattan outside hitter Mikalah Curran helped her team close the gap to 14-11 by leading a 3-0 run. The Seawolves were unfazed and went on an 11-4 run to close the game, going up 2-0 against Manhattan with a 25-15 set win.

Once Stony Brook smelled blood in the water in the third set, it ran away with the game. After jumping out to a 6-3 lead, the team controlled the pace of the game and outscored the Jaspers 19-10 over the rest of the set. With a 25-13 triumph, the Seawolves swept the match to earn their second win of the year.

Later in the day, they faced off against Saint Francis in a competitive match that went the distance. A kill by Moore gave Stony Brook a 16-15 advantage in the first set, but two errors in a row restored the Red Flash’s lead. Saint Francis outside hitter Skye Eicher extended her team’s lead with a service ace, putting it up 19-16. The Seawolves failed to rally and dropped the opener 25-20.

The second set featured the same score but with a different outcome. Stony Brook fell behind 5-4 but then went on an 8-0 run thanks to six attacking errors by the Red Flash. Staked to a 12-5 lead, the Seawolves never looked back and evened up the match at 1-1.

The Seawolves used the momentum from their win to take the third match as well. A kill from Kunz kickstarted a 6-0 run to give Stony Brook a 10-2 lead. After that, the two teams traded points back and forth until the Seawolves went on a 5-0 run to go up 21-9. They finished strong, forcing an attacking error by Saint Francis setter Alexandra Sappia to win it, taking a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Red Flash wasted no time in the fourth set and jumped out to a 13-6 lead. Kunz and Moore got Stony Brook back into it by leading a 5-1 run, cutting the score to 14-11. Saint Francis extended its lead back to six points, but a pair of kills by Kunz led her team on a 4-1 run to make it 22-19. The Seawolves’ rally was smothered due to consecutive attack errors by Stanwood and Kunz. Saint Francis outside hitter Maggie Hogan put the set to bed with a game-willing kill on a serve by defensive specialist Madison Cigna, finishing the 25-20 win to extend the match.

The fifth set was very competitive, as both teams traded kills en route to a 16-16 deadlock. Saint Francis outside hitter Kori McClure spiked down a kill assisted by Sappia to take a 17-16 lead. On the ensuing serve by Saint Francis libero Alexa Chapla, Moore’s attack landed out of bounds, winning the set and the match for the tournament hosts.

The Seawolves dominated on serves again, recording 23 aces to their opponents’ nine. They outplayed their opponents on defense, recording five more digs (145) than their opponents (140) while also having seven more blocks (39). Ultimately, it was the errors that killed them, as they committed 66 total errors across their 12 sets.

In order for Stony Brook to turn things around, Belzung said the team has to limit mistakes.

“While the results from this weekend aren’t fully what we wanted, I am seeing good growth in our group, especially as we’re still tinkering with the lineup,” Belzung said. “I’m happy with our group’s fight in the second match of the day, but we need to play a cleaner game to finish the job.”

Moore led the team with 47 kills, 55.5 points and seven aces throughout the tournament. Kunz led the team with a .308 hit percentage. Kunz also had the second-most kills with 35, followed by Stanwood with 27. Libero Julia Patsos recorded the second-most aces (five) on the squad. Henry had a great weekend running the offense with 133 assists while playing all 12 sets.

On defense, Patsos led the team with 36 digs. Kunz led the team with eight total blocks, while middle blocker Abby Campbell finished right behind her with six. Middle blocker Ayanna Pierre Louis made her NCAA debut against Saint Francis and was impressive on defense, recording four total blocks (one solo, three assists) in the match.

Stony Brook will be back in action on Wednesday for its home opener against the Columbia Lions at Pritchard Gymnasium. The Lions are 0-3 after losing all three sets of its own tournament — the Columbia Invitational — this past weekend. The match will begin at 6:31 p.m.

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