UAlbany Volleyball Stays Undefeated in America East Play with Five-Set Comeback Victory at Stony Brook
STONY BROOK, N.Y. – The UAlbany volleyball team rallied from down 2-1 to earn a five-set road victory at Stony Brook (19-25, 27-25, 18-25, 25-14, 15-7) to continue its undefeated start in America East play.
Down 2-1, UAlbany (11-6, 5-0 AE) dominated the next two sets at Stony Brook (5-14, 1-3 AE), hitting a combined .469 in the final two games with 16 kills and one attack error in 32 total attacks.
“Stony Brook is playing really well, and we started very slowly; we changed some of the matchups in the second set, and it helped defensively despite still struggling offensively,” said UAlbany head coach MJ Engstrom. “We finally started to click in the fourth set. We are much better at, since the beginning of the season, is continuing to evolve through the match.”
With the win, only UAlbany remains undefeated in America East play, a feat only shared by New Hampshire.
Akuabata Okenwa hit .265 in the match with a career-high 15 kills, including seven in the final two sets. Laini Leindecker earned a double-double off 13 kills, 12 digs and five blocks as did Mikala McCauley with 37 assists, 12 digs, four blocks and five kills. Amanda Dolan finished with 10 kills and seven total blocks.
“The seniors showed a lot of leadership today, all three did a great job pulling out this win,” said Engstrom.
For Stony Brook, Taylor Wilson finished with 16 kills, three blocks and four digs. Morgan Kath had a double-double on 58 assists and 10 digs.
A Wilson kill helped Stony Brook take an early 5-3 lead in the first set. UAlbany used kills in exchanges with Stony Brook until at 8-7, the home team won the next five to lead 13-7. UAlbany got to within four at 15-11, but Stony Brook, started by two Liz Pulver kills, went on another 5-0 run for a 21-11 lead. UAlbany countered with four-in-a-row, including a block and kill by Dolan, to get back within six, but could not bridge the gap. Stony Brook took the first set 25-19.
The two sides kept trading small runs in the beginning of the second set. At 8-7, a Dolan kill started a 3-0 UAlbany run for a 10-8 Great Danes advantage. Stony Brook used four straight points to take a 13-11 lead. Taylor Robinson notched a kill as UAlbany tied it back up at 13-13, later 14-14. Maria Poole got a kill and an ace to get Stony Brook back up 16-14. At 17-15, Nicole Otero and Nina Holmes each took UAlbany through a 3-0 run, assisted by three kills from different players, for a 21-18 lead, later going up 23-19. UAlbany got a 24-21 lead, but Stony Brook defended three set points, then another at 25-24. Okenwa buried a kill to set up another chance, and a Stony Brook error ended the game 27-25 for a 1-1 match tie.
Dolan served UAlbany through an early 4-0 run, including an assist, block and kill by Leindecker, for a 6-2 advantage in set three. Including three McKyla Brooks blocks, Stony Brook got the set to a tie at 9-9. At 10-9 UAlbany, the Seawolves got the next three to lead, then after a Dolan kill, rode Kardasia Hitchcock’s serving to a 6-0 sprint for an 18-11 lead. Despite a late 3-0 run off Otero’s serving, UAlbany fell in set three 25-18 to go down 2-1 in the match.
Leindecker earned two kills and a block as UAlbany got off to a strong 6-1 start in set four. With two kills from Wilson, Stony Brook got to within four at 9-5. After a Dolan kill, Holmes came in and took UAlbany to a 10-point lead, including two aces, on a 6-0 run. Okenwa starting going into high gear, having four kills on the final six won points by UAlbany as the Great Danes won 25-14 and forced a tiebreaker.
A McCauley dump kill sent Emily Zimmerman to serve, followed by a Leindecker solo block for a 2-0 UAlbany lead in set five. After a Poole kill, Leindecker notched two more kills, then McCauley buried an ace for a 5-1 UAlbany advantage. With four kills in five points, Stony Brook pulled to within one at 6-5. Okenwa notched a kill to send Otero back to serve. Otero served the Great Danes through a 5-0 run to make it 11-5. Holmes added a later 3-0 run as UAlbany dominated the set, taking the tiebreaker 15-7 to win the match.
UAlbany returns home for a battle of the reigning America East regular season co-champions as the Great Danes host New Hampshire on Sunday, October 16th at 2 p.m.