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Stony Brook women’s volleyball finishes rough final tournament on high note

Outside hitter Kali Moore keeps the volley alive against Columbia on Wednesday, Sept. 6. Moore led the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team with 41 points this weekend. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

Though the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team had a rough weekend, it salvaged its final nonconference tournament with another dominant sweep.

Competing in the St. John’s Tournament in Queens, N.Y., the Seawolves (4-6) lost two out of their three matches over the weekend. Early on Friday morning, they lost 3-1 to the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds (5-5). Later that night, Stony Brook was swept 3-0 by the tournament hosts: the St. John’s Red Storm (7-2). On Saturday morning, the team bounced back with a 3-0 sweep of the Siena Saints (0-9).

Aided by three total errors by the Seawolves, Loyola Maryland opened the first set on a 7-3 run. Stony Brook responded by going on a 4-1 run to cut its deficit down to just one point. Kills by Loyola Maryland outside hitter Riley Hamilton and setter Bryanne Soares bookended a 3-0 run to extend their team’s lead back to four points. However, back-to-back kills by outside hitter Abby Stanwood capped off a 6-2 run to tie the set at 13 apiece.

After the Greyhounds took a 16-14 lead, outside hitter Kali Moore recorded three-straight kills to put her team in front for the first time that day. The teams traded points until an attack error by Moore broke a 23-23 tie. Loyola Maryland middle blocker Caitlin Churney then scored the game-winning kill to hand Stony Brook a 25-23 opening-set loss.

The second set was competitive, as the two teams combined to tie the game 14 times. Halfway through the contest, a 4-0 run by the Seawolves put them up 15-11, but an 8-4 extended run by the Greyhounds tied things up 19-19.

Towards the end of the match, Loyola Maryland outside hitter Morgan Crawford committed an attack error to set Stony Brook up with the set point. However, Moore’s ensuing attack was blocked by a pair of Greyhounds to prolong the game. A service error by Crawford and an attack error by Loyola Maryland outside hitter Lauren Link wound up winning the Seawolves the second set 27-25.

The third set began with a 9-9 tie before Churney and Link spearheaded an 11-4 run by Loyola Maryland. After that, the Greyhounds let Stony Brook back into the game by committing five consecutive errors, cutting the score to 20-18. Hamilton lead her team on a 4-0 run with a trio of kills to set up the set point. Hamilton put the game away with another kill, putting the Seawolves down 2-1 in the match with a 25-19 loss.

The fourth set was over almost immediately, as three service aces by Loyola Maryland helped it jump out to a 9-3 lead. Throughout the rest of the set, Stony Brook tried to get back into it, but six unanswered points by the Greyhounds gave them an insurmountable 19-8 lead. The Seawolves never recovered, losing the final set 25-16 and dropping the match.

After beginning the day at 9:30 a.m., Stony Brook waited until 7:30 p.m. to play St. John’s. The Seawolves started off strong by taking a 7-4 lead, but the Red Storm countered with a 17-5 run of their own to go up 21-12. A 5-1 run by Stony Brook made the first set appear closer than it really was, but it did not change the outcome. St. John’s took the opener 25-18.

The middle set was much closer. After falling behind 10-4, Moore, Stanwood and outside hitter Leoni Kunz led the Seawolves all the way back to take a 19-18 lead. A kill by St. John’s middle blocker Ludovica Zola evened the set up at 19, and an attack error by Stanwood broke the tie in favor of the Red Storm. Stony Brook briefly took the lead back, but St. John’s went on a 4-1 run to set up the game point.

St. John’s outside hitter Giorgia Walther committed a service error to make it 24-23, but fellow outside hitter Erin Jones bailed her out with the set-winning kill afterwards.

The final set was over almost immediately. The Seawolves scored on the opening serve before the Red Storm went on a 14-2 run to bury them. Stony Brook never got within fewer than eight points for the rest of the set, and St. John’s won it 25-13 to clinch the sweep.

After the matchup with the Red Storm, head coach Kristin Belzung said that her team was not at its best on Friday.

“We were not firing on all cylinders today in either match,” Belzung said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “In order to be a great team, we have to figure out how to win points even when that’s the case. Ultimately, we couldn’t produce enough points against Loyola Maryland’s defense and we gave St. John’s offense too much space to score into.”

Stony Brook was much better on Saturday against winless Siena. After falling behind 9-7, three total errors by the Saints allowed the Seawolves to go on a 5-1 run and take a 12-10 lead. Siena quickly tied the set, but defensive specialist Madison Cigna led Stony Brook on a 5-0 run with three consecutive aces to go up 17-12. The team never relinquished its lead after that, and Moore killed the game-winning point to secure the 25-17 opening-set victory.

The Seawolves rallied to win the second set after falling behind 7-3. They did not falter, as Moore and Kunz led them on an 11-6 run to take a 14-13 lead. A 6-2 run by the Saints put Stony Brook behind 19-16, but a 4-1 response evened things up at 20 apiece. A service error by middle blocker Abby Campbell and an attack error by Stanwood gave Siena the lead back, but five unanswered points by the Seawolves completed the comeback and a 25-22 win.

The third and final set was deceivingly close. Stony Brook got scoring contributions from everyone en route to taking a 14-4 lead. However, the Saints went on an 8-1 run to make it just a three-point game. To flip the momentum back in their favor, the Seawolves rode on the backs of Kunz and Moore to go on a 6-1 run and extend their lead to eight points. Both teams traded points until the set reached 22-15, which was when Kunz, Cigna and Moore all scored to bury Siena and secure the sweep.

Belzung was pleased with her team’s bounce-back performance.

“It was great to end the weekend with a win and I thought we approached this match with maturity,” Belzung said. “I was excited to see our crew gut out a win, especially in the second set when it got tight.”

Stony Brook only recorded a .188 hitting percentage over the weekend, but most of that was due to a poor performance in the match against Loyola Maryland. After killing just .089 of their attack attempts against the Greyhounds, the Seawolves recorded a .263 hit percentage over the next two matches.

Defensively, Stony Brook allowed its three opponents to combine for a .244 hit percentage. However, the team did record more digs (146) than its opponents (137).

Moore led the Seawolves with 41 points in the tournament; Stanwood was right behind her with 26.5. Moore also led the squad with 32 kills. Setter Torri Henry led the team with 89 assists while playing in all 10 sets.

Campbell led the team with eight total blocks (all assists) despite missing the match against St. John’s. Libero Julia Patsos led the team with 43 digs over the weekend and was followed by Henry, who recorded 31.

Henry recorded her third and fourth double-doubles of the year with 28 assists and 12 digs versus Loyola Maryland and 32 assists plus 16 digs against Siena.

Stony Brook will begin its conference season next Saturday when the Northeastern Huskies come to Pritchard Gymnasium. The Huskies are 4-4 on the year after being swept 3-0 by Northwestern on Saturday. The teams will play on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.

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