Syracuse forced to adjust lineup due to multiple injuries
Injuries have plagued Syracuse early in its season. The team played without veterans Lindsay McCabe and Emily Betteridge during its home opener last Wednesday.
And head coach Leonid Yelin said SU will likely have to finish the season without the junior middle blocker McCabe. The Orange will need younger players to step up and fill the void.
“There’s never a day off no matter what you’re going through,” SU assistant coach Stephanie Cantway said. “We have games to win and games to play and ways to get better.”
After a promising start under Yelin, the Orange has struggled for much of September. The team sits at 7-8 going into its matchup on Wednesday against Niagara. It will be another test for SU as it tries to figure out how to replace McCabe, who earned second-team All-Big East honors after finishing second in the conference with 132 blocks.
Yelin said the doctors aren’t confident that McCabe will be able to recover from an ankle injury, which means the coaches now have to find a new lineup to put out on the court. Yelin said McCabe’s loss is a big one for his team to make up for.
“It’s not fixable,” Yelin said. “From experience, (McCabe) is really athletic. Now we have to go to freshmen. It’s a huge difference. The confidence of the players around is different.”
Cantway said it will be hard to deal with McCabe’s absence in game situations.
But McCabe’s injury isn’t the only one to affect SU through 15 games.
Junior Amanda Kullman has filled in for McCabe and the starting setter Betteridge, who missed the home opener against Binghamton with a foot injury. Cantway said the team has to work harder when a player goes down.
“If we don’t have a setter, we need to serve-receive better,” Cantway said. “If we don’t have a setter, we need to be able to create our own shots and have our hitters perform better. I think there’s always things to focus on.”
Despite the frustration resulting from the injuries, the players are looking at this year as a season of growth. Kullman said this season is an important one as Syracuse builds the program under Yelin.
The team can’t let injuries hinder its ability to do so.
“With the new coaches, it’s a new era,” Kullman said. “We want to be something bigger and something better than just the women’s volleyball team. We want people to come to our games and we want to make a statement this year. I think it’s going to take a lot to find out who we are as a team.”
Kullman said role players have to play better to help the team survive without the injured players. The responsibility falls on both the veterans and the younger players, some of who may get the chance to take on an increased role.
“We’re really trying to work together as a team to overcome (the injuries),” she said. “It’s been a long road, but I think a lot of girls have really stepped up, especially a lot of our freshmen.”
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