Sam Maller | Staff PhotographerVolleyball
Mistakes late in match cost Syracuse in collapse to Binghamton
Syracuse was pushing toward an easy victory.
Up two sets, the Orange seemed to have a tight grip on its opening home match against Binghamton. But SU dropped the third set and never regained control.
Binghamton (3-12) dominated the final three sets of the match in a five-set (24-26, 26-28, 25-22, 25-14, 15-13) victory over Syracuse (7-7) on Wednesday night at the Women’s Building. The fast start wasn’t enough, as sloppy play down the stretch spoiled the Orange’s home opener.
“We used so much nervous energy to take that first set,” assistant coach Stephanie Cantway said. “We were frazzled after that.”
Syracuse got off to a sluggish start, falling into a 14-6 hole in the first set, but the Bearcats made some errors to let the Orange put together a slow comeback and cut the deficit to 24-20. Syracuse took six straight points to put away the set, capped by a decisive kill by freshman Gosia Wlaszczuk.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair in which the Orange showed some grit. With the set tied at 26, Wlaszczuk put away another kill before Binghamton hit a ball into the net to end the set.
From there, the Syracuse team that had won the first two sets disappeared.
SU made a number of errors during its collapse. Serves into the net, net violations and hits out of bounds gave the Bearcats easy points in crucial moments of the last three sets.
Cantway said new features in the Women’s Building may have overwhelmed some of Syracuse’s more inexperienced players as the intense match progressed.
A new video screen and fresh floor paint were unveiled for the home opener. An energetic group of students in the crowd made the gym louder than what many of the players have come to expect from the facility.
“They’re used to playing in an empty warehouse, basically,” Cantway said. “Now, it’s pretty, and there’s a production value. It’s overwhelming.”
An absence in the middle of the Syracuse lineup left the team with different rotations and a lack of experience at multiple positions.
Junior middle blocker Lindsay McCabe and sophomore setter Emily Betteridge both sat out the game with injuries. Syracuse couldn’t contain the Bearcats’ offense without McCabe.
Without the 6-foot-1-inch McCabe on the frontline to turn away Binghamton’s shots, the Bearcats had three players with more than 15 kills in the match.
Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin said the injuries had a significant effect on the game. Yelin scrambled to make lineup changes. Wlaszczuk, who normally plays outside hitter, spent a portion of the match at setter.
Yelin said playing without McCabe and Betteridge was like a football team playing without its quarterback.
“It’s just hard to play,” Yelin said. “Our middles maybe got two or three sets, where usually each of them get about 12 sets.”
The players felt like it was a match that shouldn’t have slipped away, injuries or no injuries. Wlaszczuk said a lack of focus, not a lack of players, was Syracuse’s downfall.
“We can’t say that if we lose one player, our team is worse,” Wlaszczuk said. “Every girl can play, we just need to show what we can do.”
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