Volleyball serves SU athletics first win of the year

SU volleyball tops Pitt in season opener

Polina Shemanova's 20-kill performance pushes the Orange past Panthers in Pitt's first ACC loss since 2018.
Published: September 25, 2020 | Updated: October 7th, 2020 at 11:38 am
Polina Shemanova (11) and teammates celebrate during Syracuse's match on Sept. 25, 2020, vs. Pittsburgh.
Polina Shemanova (11) and teammates celebrate during Syracuse's match vs Pitt. Her 20-kill performance pushed the Orange past the Panthers in Pitt's first ACC loss since 2018.

The Syracuse volleyball team went into Friday night’s season-opening match against Pitt as the heavy underdog. But that didn’t stop the Orange from pushing the Panthers to a 5-set game and upsetting Pitt in the tie-breaking match to dethrone the team that hadn’t lost an ACC matchup since Oct. 28, 2018.

Not only did Syracuse pull off the victory in their first of two games against Pitt, but the volleyball team also became the first program to give SU athletics a win this fall.

Syracuse’s starting line-up led with setter, Elena Karakasi, middle blockers, Abby Casiano and Marina Markova, outside hitters, Polina Shemanova and Ella Saada, opposite hitter, Yuliia Yastrub and libero, Lauren Hogan.

Karakasi opened the first set with a serve that was promptly met with a Pitt kill, giving them a marginal but early lead. The set went back-and-forth until the Panthers were able to finish on a strong run, topping the Orange 25-21.

Syracuse came back strong in the second match, led by captain Shemanova’s 8-kill performance. The junior’s maturity elevated the Orange to a 25-17 victory, tying the game 1-1. The third set saw Markova run a five-point rally, pushing ‘Cuse to a 2-1 set lead in the 26-24 extra point match.

Pitt managed to win the fourth match in another extra-point situation, topping Syracuse 27-25 to push a fifth and final set.

After some back-and-forth play in the beginning of the fifth set, the Orange shut down the Panthers, capping off the 15-9 win with a match point from Yastrub and Casiano.

“The win was a team effort and hard work pays off,” said head coach Leonid Yelin. “I am tired but extremely happy. We are going to enjoy this win for a couple of hours and then get some sleep, hopefully good sleep, and come back tomorrow. Pittsburgh will not give up. We have to come tomorrow ready to play.”

Shemanova led Syracuse to victory with 20 kill, 18 digs and 1 ace. Freshman libero Hogan solidified her spot in the starting lineup with 21 digs while veteran setter Karakasi put up 51 assists.

“Emotions played a big role in the game,” said Shemanova on playing without fans for the first time. “Even though they were no fans in the court, we made the energy.”

Syracuse faces Pitt again Saturday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. on ACCNX.

Syracuse Outside hitter Marina Markova jumps to spike the ball during the Sept. 25, 2020, home game against Pittsburgh.
Outside hitter Marina Markova jumps to spike the ball during the game.
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is a magazine, news and online graduate student, sports and features writer, plus volleyball enthusiast.