Syracuse volleyball rides team effort to bumpy win over Boston College

SU volleyball has shaky win over Boston College.

Syracuse will take on ACC foes Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech this weekend.
Published: November 1, 2018
Syracuse vs. Boston College volleyball on Oct. 31, 2018
Syracuse's Elena Karaksi and teammates defend a spiked ball late in the final set of Wednesday's ACC match against Boston College.

Syracuse (10-3 ACC) seemed destined to be defined by shaky outings in sets one and three. However, a dominant display from outside hitter Ella Saada in the final game helped send Boston College (3-10 ACC) home with a 3-1 loss.

The Orange opened set four with four straight points before relinquishing three to the Eagles. Any sense that this game would be another back and forth between the two teams was put to bed by Saada. Five of her six set kills came in a stretch that saw Boston College score just 10 points, and lose game four 25-13.

Saada started the match the same way she ended it, notching six kills in set one. Every single point was needed as Syracuse failed to create any separation from the Eagles. The stanza featured 13 ties, before a service ace from libero Aliah Bowllan gave the Orange the 26-24 win.

What set Syracuse apart in set two is a skill they have dominated in all season. The team registered five total blocks in the frame, with middle blocker Amber Witherspoon a part of four of these rejections. This defensive effort ensured the Orange trailed just once in a 25-21 win.

Coming into the match, Syracuse was second in the nation in blocks per set with 2.96. Witherspoon, who finished the match with seven of the team’s 15 total blocks, said she is fortunate to have the opportunity to hone her skills.

“I think as a middle you basically have two jobs: to hit and block,” Witherspoon said. “When you have two jobs to do, you have to perfect your craft.”

Although the second set ended with a Syracuse win, they didn’t leave the frame unscathed. Freshman outside hitter Polina Shemanova was taken out due to a lingering leg injury and did not return to the court.

Her presence was sorely missed in set three, as Boston College took the kills advantage 16-15. Even without their best offensive player, the Orange were able to tie the score 22-22, but wouldn’t score again as the Eagles stole game three 25-22.

The absence of Shemanova allowed Syracuse’s role players to shine. Saada finished the match with 20 kills, and Christina Oyawale had 12, one kill away from doubling her season total of 13. Kendra Lukacs, who came in for Shemanova, added eight kills in relief.

Syracuse starts a two-game road trip this Friday with Virginia Tech (4-8 ACC), before taking on Georgia Tech (4-8 ACC) on Sunday.