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Stony Brook women’s volleyball splits a weekend of sweeps

Middle blocker Abby Campbell (left) and outside hitter Kali Moore (right) leap to block an attack by Northeastern middle blocker Anabel Zier on Saturday, Sept. 16. Campbell and Moore led the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team to a split at Charleston. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

After a nightmare start to its weekend, the Stony Brook women’s volleyball team salvaged its trip down to South Carolina with a perfect Sunday.

The Seawolves (5-9, 1-3 CAA) had a night and day performance at the Charleston Cougars (4-11, 1-3 CAA) this past weekend, as they split the two-game series in sweeping fashion. Stony Brook was swept 3-0 by Charleston on Saturday but returned the favor with a 3-0 sweep on Sunday to earn its first conference win of the year.

The opening set began with both teams trading points, knotting the game up at 6-6. After that, the Seawolves went on a 7-1 run led by a pair of kills from outside hitter Kali Moore and two attack errors by the Cougars. Charleston outside hitter Anna Smith got her team back into it by engineering a 9-4 run with three kills of her own, cutting Stony Brook’s lead to 17-16. A kill by outside hitter Abby Stanwood gave the Seawolves momentary breathing room, but the Cougars took over by riding a 7-1 stretch to go up 24-18.

Back-to-back kills by Stony Brook snapped the scoring run, but another kill by Smith secured the match point and delivered Charleston a 25-21 victory.

Both sides traded blows in a very competitive second set that saw 10 lead changes and five separate ties. With the game tied at 22 apiece, Charleston middle blocker Olivia Mae Van Der Werff gave her team the lead for good with a kill between the Seawolves’ defenders. Moore committed an attack error on the next play to set up the match point. She cut the deficit back to one point with a kill on the ensuing serve, but she committed another error on the following one to clinch the 25-23 loss.

Entering the third set with a 2-0 lead, the Cougars jumped out to an early 8-3 advantage headlined by three kills from outside hitter Lexi Wierzbicki and a pair by fellow outside hitter Morgan Cobb. The two sides exchanged points for much of the middle part of the set, but Charleston unleashed a 10-2 spree to close out the match. The Cougars got contributions from Wierzbicki and Cobb while also seeing middle blocker Cailyn Bolser add two kills during the winning run.

Looking to rebound after Saturday’s beatdown, Stony Brook led for much of the first set, building up a 20-16 lead. However, Wierzbicki, Cobb and Bolser carried Charleston on a 7-2 scoring run to take a 23-22 lead. The Cougars wasted their comeback by committing a pair of attack errors which bookended a game-winning 3-0 run by the Seawolves.

Boosted by a pair of 6-1 runs, Stony Brook claimed a 19-15 lead in the second set and never looked back. Charleston pulled closer towards the end of the game with a 5-2 stretch, cutting its deficit down to just one point. Moore stepped in with a kill and a service ace before Charleston outside hitter Sopheea Mink committed an attack error to guide the Seawolves to the doorstep.

Now leading 24-20, their lead shrunk back to one point after three consecutive points by the Cougars. Stanwood thwarted Charleston’s last-ditch efforts with a set-winning kill to secure the 25-23 triumph.

Stony Brook steadily held the lead for most of the final set, accumulating a 14-11 lead through the game’s early portion. Looking to ignite her team’s first big run of the series, outside hitter Leoni Kunz recorded a kill that sparked a 10-3 run to make it 24-14. During that stretch, the Cougars committed four attack errors, two blocking errors and allowed an ace to carry the Seawolves towards the finish line. Back-to-back meaningless points by Charleston made the set slightly closer before Moore sealed the match victory with her 14th kill of the day.

After Sunday’s match, head coach Kristin Belzung said the defensive performance spearheaded the dominant sweep.

“It feels great to be heading home with this win and even more so because of the way our team responded from yesterday’s loss,” Belzung said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “We executed the game plan defensively and that gave us better opportunities to score.”

Both offenses were sloppy this weekend, as neither team recorded a hit percentage over .200. Stony Brook’s .197 bested Charleston’s .180. The Seawolves committed five fewer attack errors (30) than the Cougars (35).

On defense, Stony Brook had fewer digs (112) than Charleston (120). At the net, the Seawolves were stronger, as they blocked 15 of the Cougars’ attack attempts during the series. Charleston only blocked seven of Stony Brook’s attacks.

Moore led the Seawolves’ offense in the series with 21 kills and 25.5 points. Kunz was right behind her with 20 kills and 21.5 points. Both of them recorded double-doubles on Sunday, as they each cracked double figures in both kills and digs.

Middle blocker Abby Campbell was Stony Brook’s third-leading scorer with 19.5 points. Campbell led the team with eight total blocks (one solo, seven assists) and tallied 15 kills. She also led the team with a .382 hitting percentage.

Setter Torri Henry continued to be one of the top facilitators in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). She compiled 66 assists through the six sets played, giving her an average of 10.57 on the season, which is good for second-best in the conference.

Libero Julia Patsos led her squad with 34 digs. Her 4.27 digs per set this season places her second in the CAA. Moore was second on the team with 21 digs.

The Seawolves will return to Pritchard Gymnasium next weekend to take on the North Carolina A&T Aggies in a two-match series. Opening set is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. The Aggies are 4-8 this year and 2-2 in conference play after sweeping both matches from Hampton this past weekend.

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