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Volleyball earns first America East Championship with win over Binghamton

Junior middle blocker McKyla Brook jumps to spike the ball in a game against Binghamton. Brooks was awarded “Most Outstanding Player” at the America East Championships this past Saturday. GARY GHAYRAT/THE STATESMAN

For the first time in the team’s history, Stony Brook Volleyball has won the America East Championship. The team swept No. 2-seeded Binghamton on Saturday after sweeping No. 1-seeded Albany on Friday.

“We’re pretty fired up,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a post game interview on AmericaEast.tv. “I love that we got this group. I think you could see the buy-in from the second we got here they’ve been working their tails off. This has been the goal since the second we stepped foot on campus.”

Junior middle blocker McKyla Brooks was awarded the game’s “Most Outstanding Player” award for her performance. She led the team with 16 kills and seven blocks. In addition, Brooks also recorded the game-winning kill in each set.

“She’s a lot of fun to coach and obviously you see in terms of athleticism and power you don’t get to see that very often,” Belzung said in her interview with the America East. “Teams will commit blocks and she is able to score and that makes it a lot more fun for everyone on the court to be able to score as well.”

The Seawolves began the match with a lead they would not concede. The team went on a 9-4 run before the Bearcats cut the lead to two point later on. Brooks’ game-winning kill ended the Binghamton comeback attempt and gave the Seawolves the first set victory 25-20. 

Stony Brook again began the second set with a lead which it would not concede. The Bearcats committed nine attack errors in this set, impacting their chances of scoring. This allowed the Seawolves to pull away and take a 22-16 lead. The team would go on to win 25-18 following a critical block by Brooks to take a 2-0 set lead.

Heading into the third set, Stony Brook faced a much more organized Binghamton team after they were plagued by attack errors during the first two sets. The Bearcats took their first lead of the match off an attack error by the Seawolves to put them up 5-4. The Seawolves responded with an offensive rally that the Bearcats were unable to adjust to. A kill by Brooks gave Stony Brook the 25-19 victory in the third and final set, ending the team’s championship drought.

Belzung helped lead her team to an America East Championship in her first season with the team, after the Seawolves had an 8-21 overall record last season. She managed to turn the team’s struggles around, coaching the Seawolves to become the No. 4-seed in the America East Tournament. Even when facing No. 1-seeded Albany, a team that they hadn’t defeated in three years, Belzung persisted they would succeed if they “trusted the process.”

“We wouldn’t have come here if we didn’t think it was a possibility to do early in our career,” Belzung said in a press release. “This group came into the gym every single day. They wanted to work hard, they believed in the process and they were willing to work the process. We said ‘If you keep working the process eventually the process will love you back.’ And the process is loving us back right now.”

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