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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Volleyball’s season comes to an end in NCAA Tournament loss to Nebraska

Sophomore outside hitter Maria Poole spikes the ball in a match against Albany. Despite Poole’s consecutive kills, the Seawolves lost to Nebraska in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Dec. 1. ERIC SCHMID/STATESMAN FILE

Stony Brook Volleyball’s historic season came to a close on Friday night. The team was swept by No. 5-seeded Nebraska in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

“To have the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time is an amazing experience,” head coach Kristin Belzung said in a press release. “Obviously I would have loved to see a different result, but Nebraska is a heck of a team. Offensively they had a great night. We tried to do as much as we could to dig balls, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”

The Seawolves fell into a hole early by allowing Nebraska to start the game on a 6-2 run. The Huskers controlled the attack through quick rallies, which allowed them to score six unanswered points and eventually win the first set 25-10.

Nebraska continued finding holes in the Seawolves defensive set in order to score three straight aces and take a 5-0 lead to begin the second set. While sophomore outside hitter Maria Poole shortened the deficit with consecutive kills, the team’s defensive struggles continued to plague them. Junior libero Kenzie Maloney’s fourth ace of the game put the Huskers up 16-8 before the team forced Stony Brook to commit three consecutive attack errors to win the second set 25-14.

The Seawolves kept things close starting off the third set following a kill by sophomore outside hitter Liz Pulver to tie the game at four. The Huskers responded with an attack spree, scoring nine unanswered points to give Nebraska a 12-4 lead. Despite a late resurgence, the Seawolves dropped the final set 25-12, ending their NCAA Tournament run.

Despite going home early, the Seawolves played one of their best seasons. The team finished with an 18-13 overall record, qualified as the No. 4 seed in the America East Tournament and swept No. 1-seeded Albany and third seed Binghamton to win the program’s first America East Championship.

Junior middle blocker McKyla Brooks led the America East with a .326 hitting percentage overall. Brooks came through in clutch scenarios during the America East Conference finals when she scored all three set-winning kills and won the Most Outstanding Player award in the team’s victory over Binghamton. Sophomore setter LeAnne Sakowicz led the conference with 1251 assists, averaging 10 a game. Freshman libero Kiani Kerstetter finished the season with 547 total digs, the second most in program history behind Lo Hathaway’s 553 digs, set in 2013.

The team will look to continue its success heading into next season as America East champions.  

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