Syracuse’s defense helps fend off Virginia in straight-set victory

first_imgSantita Ebangwese wasn’t playing like her usual self. The junior middle blocker had five attack attempts and just two kills halfway through the second set, and her team was failing to gain any offensive consistency after a shaky start.Then, her blocking sparked a run. Ebangwese repelled a Kat Young attack attempt straight back onto Virginia’s side of the court, and Syracuse went on to score four of the game’s next five points, leaving behind its earlier offensive struggles en route to a 25-19 second-set victory. That decisive set paired with a strong defensive performance lifted Syracuse (17-8, 9-3 Atlantic Coast) in straight sets to Virginia (5-18, 1-11) on Sunday afternoon at the Women’s Building.Amber Witherspoon (six blocks) and Christina Oyawale (four blocks) manned Syracuse’s front line, constantly repelling attack attempts and limiting Virginia to a .110 hitting percentage. When the Cavaliers attacked, Belle Sand (eight digs) and Jalissa Trotter (seven digs) manned the Syracuse back line, keeping the volley alive often.“When you see people digging and sacrificing themselves, that’s fine,” head coach Leonid Yelin said. “But it’s a team defense.”Yelin was unimpressed by his team’s defensive effort, stating communication between blockers and the back line led to a disconnect that allowed Virginia to go on runs early in the second set and late in the third.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The whole defense, front row and back row, need to be on the same page,” Sand said. “We need to make sure we’re all moving together.”The first half of the opening set was a defensive battle, as neither team found any offensive rhythm to pull away. Eventually, as Syracuse’s defense continued to neutralize Virginia’s attack, Gorelina and Oyawale powered a 7-3 SU run. Virginia only scored two points in a row once during the opening set, a feat Syracuse had accomplished six times.SU’s strong defensive play failed to carry over to the start of the second set, as Virginia scored two or more points in a row three separate times in the set’s first 17 points. Down 7-10, the Orange defense bounced back. The Witherspoon-led front line contained the visitors for the rest of the set, allowing SU to reclaim the lead with kills from Gorelina and Kendra Lukacs.“I think our communication was good and we played as a team,” Witherspoon said of the performance of the front line. “Blocking is a team effort.”Syracuse jumped out to a 5-1 lead to start the third set and maintained the lead before a late surge from the Cavaliers. Down 16-20, Virginia scored five of the game’s next six points to even the score at 21. After a Syracuse timeout, the home team notched four straight points to close the set and game.Despite being rocky at times, it was Syracuse’s defense that stepped up when it needed to, fending off Virginia runs that could have resulted in lost sets.“You have to learn how to hold yourself to the highest standard every time you play,” Yelin said. Comments Published on October 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm Contact David: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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