Volleyball

3rd-set errors plague Syracuse volleyball in 3-1 loss to Duke

Sabrina Koenig | Staff Photographer

Several errors in the third set halted Syracuse's momentum against Duke on Sunday.

Down 4-0 in the third set, Libero Belle Sand tried to continue to do what she had done through the first two sets — keep the ball from hitting the floor at all costs.

As she dove for the ball and hit the ground, she deflected the ball in a punch-like motion and it skewed over the Syracuse bench, nearly into a basketball hoop surrounding the Women’s Building court.

The Orange’s momentum from winning a back-and-forth second set had faded and SU had dug itself into a hole after allowing Duke to go on an extended run.

Errors plagued Syracuse (6-16, 5-7 Atlantic Coast) for the majority of game against Duke (16-6, 10-2) as the Orange attempted to comeback. The issue came to a head in the third set when the Blue Devils took command of the game for good winning two unanswered sets.

“Our hitters didn’t find better options in this situation,” Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin said.

SU and Duke split the first two sets before the Orange’s flaws surfaced once again.

Against Notre Dame on Oct. 7, Syracuse trailed 1-0 in sets. On the verge of winning the second set, it let the Fighting Irish go on a 4-0 run that turned the game in UND’s favor. Notre Dame won the set and the game.

Following Duke’s 5-0 run to start the third set on Sunday, Syracuse went on a 4-0 run of its own. The set went back and forth until SU crumbled.

Outside hitter Santita Ebangwese felt the energy of her team changing and saw the Blue Devils taking control.

“We were getting kinda frantic in some spots,” Ebangwese said, “and their team, they were a little more disciplined than us.”

With Syracuse up three, 20-17, a kill by Duke’s Jessi Bartholomew began the start of a 7-0 run. In a matter of minutes, Syracuse trailed 24-20 and lost the set, 25-21.

In that 7-0 run, the trio of Bartholomew, Leah Meyer and Samantha Amos blocked Syracuse four times in a row.

“It was open play,” Yelin said. “They know who our setter gonna set (to). They were able to surround with (a) double block … and we didn’t cover.”

Following the lost set, Syracuse started the fourth and final set similar to the second set. The teams went back and forth again, until Duke pulled away with a late 4-0 run. The Blue Devils won the set, 25-21.

Yelin said his team couldn’t adjust to the tempo that Duke began setting following its third-set win.

The failure to adjust led not only to getting blocked, but also bad passes, botched coverage and rushed hits that failed to execute.

“They did a pretty good job to control ball, make right decision,” Yelin said. “That double hurts us when somebody doing good decision and you not.”

Yelin said Duke played nearly flawless in the third and fourth sets.

Syracuse’s inability to play mistake-free in tight sets or at the end of sets has hurt the team the whole season and once again represented what it takes to win in the ACC.

“We just played a more disciplined team,” Ebangwese said. “The mistakes we made on Friday (against Wake Forest) we couldn’t make and we did … They realized this and they usually got the point.”

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