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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook women’s volleyball decimates Columbia in home opener

Outside hitter Leoni Kunz (left) and middle blocker Abby Campbell (right) share a block assist against Columbia on Wednesday, Sept. 6. Kunz led the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team with seven total blocks against the Lions. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

In its first home match of the year, the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team played so cleanly that it never even trailed.

Making their Pritchard Gymnasium debut for the 2023 season, the Seawolves (3-4) swept the Columbia Lions (0-4) 3-0 in a midweek matchup on Wednesday night. After posting its highest hit percentage and committing its fewest errors of the year, Stony Brook treated its fans to a swift beatdown of its Ivy League foes.

The Seawolves won the opening set in wire-to-wire fashion. A couple of big kills from outside hitters Kali Moore and Abby Stanwood mixed with some errors by the Lions allowed Stony Brook to open the first set on a 6-2 run. From that moment on, the team maintained the lead for the rest of the set. A 4-2 run by Columbia cut the Seawolves’ lead to 8-6, but an 8-3 run by Stony Brook extended the advantage to 16-9. Despite the Lions outscoring the Seawolves 10-9 over the rest of the match, the lead was unsurmountable. Stony Brook held on to win it 25-19, taking a 1-0 lead in the match.

Head coach Kristin Belzung credited the dominant performance to her team’s execution of the gameplan.

“We tried to keep it simple and attack things that we thought would score, and we didn’t have to make too many adjustments as the match went on, which was really good,” Belzung said in a postgame interview with The Statesman.

The second set started off competitively, as Columbia went on to tie the game five separate times, leading to a 9-9 deadlock. However, a pair of service aces by Moore and a trio of errors by the Lions led the Seawolves went on a 7-1 run to take a 16-10 lead. Columbia outside hitter Amanda Holsen tried to breathe life into Columbia with a kill that sparked a 3-1 run to close the deficit.

No comeback was in the cards for the Lions, as Stanwood and middle blocker Abby Campbell answered with consecutive kills to headstart a 5-0 run, putting Stony Brook ahead 22-13. The Seawolves finished them off by going on a 3-1 run with kills from Moore, setter Torri Henry and outside hitter Leoni Kunz. The 25-16 triumph gave them a 2-0 and potential for an early nightcap.

The final set began like the previous one, with Stony Brook narrowly clutching onto a 9-8 lead. With the loaded gym behind them, the Seawolves refused to let the Lions back into the game and went on a 5-0 run to go up 14-8. Stony Brook committed consecutive errors to snap its run, allowing Columbia to score three consecutive points. Seeing red, the Seawolves went on a furious 11-4 run to finish the night off, winning the third set 25-15.

Columbia committed 19 attacking errors compared to Stony Brook’s 11. By forcing all those errors, the Seawolves held the Lions to a miniscule .078 hitting percentage.

Stony Brook totaled eight aces on the night, and Belzung believes that played a factor in its defensive success.

“I thought we picked up our serving in the second and third [sets] which allowed our defense to really set up,” Belzung said. “I thought overall, we played really solid defensively.”

Kunz dominated in both aspects, as she was the team’s second-leading scorer with 12 points. She also finished the match with the third-most kills (eight) and the most blocks (seven) on the team.

Kunz credits her performance to her hard-nosed playstyle and trust in her teammates.

“Being aggressive is one of the things I [like] to do best,” Kunz said. “Taking big swings and rips, knowing my team has got me covered and knowing that’s how I am going to score. With blocking, knowing my middle [blocker] is going to be next to me and putting the ball down.”

Moore led the team with 14 points and five aces. Her nine kills trailed only Stanwood, who had 11. Moore’s nine digs was the second-most on the squad behind libero Julia Patsos, who recorded 11.

Freshman middle blocker Ayanna Pierre Louis had a good day at the office, recording six kills and five block assists, which was good for 8.5 points. Henry continued her hot start to the season, recording 36 assists. Her 10.88 assists per set lead the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) so far this year.

The Seawolves will play in their final nonconference tournament this weekend in Queens, N.Y. Taking part in the St. John’s Tournament, they will begin play at 9:30 a.m. on Friday against the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds. The Greyhounds are 3-4 on the season after being swept by Coppin State 3-0.

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