Bill Ziskin

UAlbany Volleyball Sweeps Stony Brook for Successful Senior Day

UAlbany Sports Information   11-04-2016

ALBANY, N.Y. – Celebrating the careers of its three seniors, the UAlbany volleyball team took down rival Stony Brook in three (28-26, 25-19, 25-20) to earn its third straight victory.

UAlbany (15-7, 9-1 AE) defended against set point with a long rally against Stony Brook (6-18, 2-7 AE) to hold on to game one, eventually overtaking the Seawolves to go up 1-0.  UAlbany controlled each of the final two sets to earn the victory in sweep fashion.

“Often distractions hurt the focus of a team; going into this evening’s Senior Day events, those subtle things that nip at focus and intensity were there,” said UAlbany coach MJ Engstrom. “Throughout the first set, we struggled with our offense, but our defense kept us within striking distance.  We found a better rhythm in the next two sets and kept our intensity throughout the match.”

As a team, UAlbany finished with 10.5 total blocks, with six players earning at least two blocks in the match.

Before the match started, UAlbany honored its three seniors, Amanda Dolan, Mikala McCauley and Laini Leindecker, all playing in their final home regular season weekend at the University Gym.

“Congrats to the seniors on a great night!” said Engstrom. “They have been a joy to coach these past four years. Above and beyond the volleyball, they are phenomenal students, leaders, and people.”

Chloe Evering earned a team-best 12 kills while Leindecker had nine kills and 18 digs.  Akuabata Okenwa notched eight kills and five blocks while Taylor Robinson concluded with five kills and six blocks.

For Stony Brook, Jordan Gels had a team-best 14 kills, adding seven digs while Taylor Wilson hit .286 for nine kills and four digs.

An early 5-0 SBU run put the Seawolves ahead 6-3 in the first set.  At 7-4, a kill and block by Okenwa helped UAlbany go back ahead at 8-7.  The teams kept exchanging runs, with a 5-0 SBU run, including two Maria Poole kills, being countered with a 4-0 UAlbany run off Gabrielle Hansen’s serving.  At 17-16 UAlbany, Gels got three kills in a 4-0 SBU sprint for a 20-17 Seawolves lead.  A Robinson-Evering combo block sparked a 4-0 UAlbany run to put the Great Danes back ahead, but SBU took back the lead with three straight kills at 23-21.  An exchange gave SBU set point at 24-22.  UAlbany let SBU swing away and miss for the first defense, then held on a long rally, ending in an Evering kill to tie the set at 24-24.  McKyla Brooks got a kill to give SBU set point again, but missed a second attack to make it 25-25.  The sides exchanged a kill, then an attack error by SBU again made it game point.  Emily Zimmerman buried an ace off the SBU libero to give UAlbany the set 28-26.

Three early Leindecker kills gave UAlbany a 6-2 advantage to begin set two.  Including a couple of Poole blocks, SBU pulled to within one at 9-8.  UAlbany countered on Nina Holmes’s serving, using kills from Okenwa and McCauley to fuel a 4-0 streak and a 13-8 UAlbany lead.  UAlbany picked up another pair of 3-0 runs to lead 19-10.  SBU tried to rally, using three Gels kills to pull within three at 20-17.  Robinson ended the comeback attempt with two straight kills as UAlbany held the rest of the set, taking game two 25-19 and leading 2-0 in the match.

The third set began back and forth, with UAlbany leading 7-6.  UAlbany won four in a row, including a Hansen service ace, for an 11-6 advantage.  After a couple of Gels kills, UAlbany surged forward with four in a row, including a block and kill by Leindecker.  SBU got a kill, then UAlbany won five of the next six points, all off kills, to go ahead 21-11.  SBU had a couple of late 4-0 runs, but UAlbany’s advantage proved triumphant, ending with a Dolan kill to take set three 25-20 and take the match in three.

UAlbany plays its regular season home finale on Sunday, November 6th, hosting UMBC at 2 p.m. in the University Gym.

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