Syracuse refocuses from 3rd set slip to beat Niagara at Big Orange tournament

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on August 31, 2014 at 8:51 pm The third set of Syracuse’s match against Niagara Sunday afternoon was the Orange’s 11th in two days.SU had cruised through the first two sets against the Purple Eagles, but knew discipline would be needed to close out the match.“During the first two sets, they had something,” SU head coach Leonid Yelin said. “After the third game… they were empty.”The Purple Eagles (1-2) dominated the third set with the help of its setter Alexis Gray and her fast, powerful serves. The Orange (2-1) was unable to control them and dropped the third, but refocused in the fourth set to close out the match 3-1 behind strong play from Leah Levert and Monika Salkute.“You can take a timeout and hope something changes,” Yelin said. “You can pray. But in the end, a player has to serve receive.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGray served four consecutive Niagara points from 16-7 to 19-7, a stretch that included two aces. And while SU players struggled to return serves throughout the third set, they attributed it to a lapse in concentration.“People were trying to bring the energy, to save it for the next game,” SU junior setter Gosia Wlaszczuk said. “Forget about this one, but start building confidence to start the fourth [set] as good as we can.”The strategy of conserving energy seemed to work, as Syracuse came out in the fourth set looking more focused defensively. The team jumped out to a 6-2 lead behind two blocks from Levert and another from outside hitter Silvi Uattara.“(Levert) understood what we needed her (to do), not to try to do something crushing,” Yelin said. “She gave us ball control, serve receive, she made two great blocks.”The Purple Eagles mounted a small comeback to get within one at 11-10 with Gray stepping back to serve once more. But the Orange broke her serve after only two points on a questionable in-or-out call on the back line that sent Niagara head coach Vilis Ozols into a frenzy.The Orange responded with three points of its own to retake the lead before relying on more strong defense from Levert and timely hitting by middle blocker Monika Salkute.“Sometimes … you can see if the block is going to be close to the line, so I’m going [to hit the ball] across [the court] most of the time,” Salkute said.Her strategy worked as she scored two of the Orange’s final four points, including the match winner, on kills.After the tournament between Syracuse, Niagara, Delaware and Temple concluded, Salkute and Uattara were named to the all-tournament team.Sunday’s win improved the team’s record to 2-1, all three games played at home in the Big Orange Tournament. Syracuse won its opening match against Delaware State, 3-0, before losing its second match of the day 3-2 to Temple, losing by two points in the final set.The team’s next game is Sept. 5 against Depaul in the Chicago State Tournament.“The whole body, the brain, was just screaming and looking for this break,” Yelin said. “But when you ask them what’s different (between the first two sets and the last two), they didn’t do anything differently.” Commentslast_img

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