Bill Ziskin

UAlbany Volleyball Battles Syracuse in NIVC First Round

UAlbany Sports Information   11-28-2017

HAMILTON, N.Y. – The UAlbany volleyball team has earned its first postseason berth since 2011 and will take on Syracuse at the Cotterell Court at Colgate University on Thursday, November 30th at 4:30 p.m. for the National Invitational Volleyball Championship First Round.

The match will be broadcast online on the Patriot League Network.

The NIVC has been revitalized for the first time since 1995.  UAlbany earned an automatic berth into the tournament for being the America East regular season champion.  The winner of UAlbany-Syracuse will take on the victor of Colgate-Towson on Friday, December 1st at 7 p.m. for the NIVC Second Round.

UAlbany had its 10-match winning streak snapped with a three-set defeat vs. Stony Brook in the America East semifinals on November 17th to enter at 11-14 overall and 11-1 in the league.  Syracuse fell in five sets to Louisville on November 24th, standing 20-13 overall and tying for fifth place in the ACC at 12-8. 

The two sides will meet for the first time since September 20, 2014.  UAlbany traveled to Syracuse for the Otto Invitational, falling to the Orange in three sets.  All-time, UAlbany is 3-6 against Syracuse.  UAlbany comes to Hamilton for the first time since 2015, playing in the Colgate Classic that year.  The Great Danes went 2-1 in that invite with wins over Rutgers and Colgate.

UALBANY EARNS 10TH AE REGULAR SEASON TITLE: With the three-set victory over Hartford on November 5th, UAlbany secured its tenth America East regular season title in program history.  It is the first title since 2015 and the first outright title since 2012.  UAlbany’s 10 titles have come since 2004, with all other programs combining for five.

SCOUTING THE (POTENTIAL) OPPONENTS: Syracuse’s leader in kills is 6-foot-4 junior outside hitter Anastasiya Gorelina, who has tallied 309 kills, 176 digs and 53 blocks.  In the middle is 6-foot-4 senior Amber Witherspoon, hitting .345 with 175 kills and 112 blocks while senior libero Belle Sand stands with 495 digs and 18 service aces.

Freshman outside hitter and Patriot League Rookie of the Year Alli Lowe is Colgate’s leader in kills with 382.  Junior outside hitter Katie Stansbury has tallied 253 kills, 24 service aces, 319 digs and 24 total blocks while senior setter Lauren Sanderson has compiled 1082 assists, 81 kills, 24 aces and 244 digs

On the right side, All-CAA First Team junior Jocelyn Kuilan is Towson’s leader in kills with 359 and aces with 38.  Senior All-CAA Second Team Julymar Otero has been in different roles with 274 kills, 262 assists, 218 digs and 43 blocks, while All-CAA Third Team junior libero Anna Holehouse has 557 digs and 20 aces.

LAST TIME VS. SYRACUSE: UAlbany nearly recovered to force a fourth set vs. Syracuse in the 2014 Otto Invitational, but fell in three sets (20-25, 10-25, 25-27) in its opening match.  Laini Leindecker had 12 kills and seven digs for UAlbany while Mikala McCauley had a double-double of 32 assists and 10 digs.  Silvi Uattara picked up a double-double for Syracuse, hitting .344 with 14 kills and 10 digs while Monika Salkute hit .440 for 14 kills and eight blocks.

LAST TIME IN THE POSTSEASON: UAlbany, the 2011 America East Tournament champion, picked up an automatic berth into that year’s NCAA Tournament, drawing Florida State in the first round.  UAlbany fell in three sets (15-25, 11-25, 23-25) to the Seminoles.  Casey Wright hit .450 for UAlbany with 11 kills while Brooke Stanley tallied 30 assists and nine digs.

LAST TIME: UALBANY FALLS TO SBU IN AE SEMIFINAL: 1-seed UAlbany was defeated by 4-seed Stony Brook in three sets (20-25, 21-25, 20-25) in the America East Tournament semifinal round.

Akuabata Okenwa hit .233 with 11 kills, five digs and an ace. Nicole Otero notched 15 digs and five assists while Chloe Evering had eight kills and five digs.

UALBANY EARNS THREE AMERICA EAST YEARLY AWARDS: UAlbany was well represented in the America East awards, with the squad earning three league yearly honors.  Nicole Otero reclaimed the America East Defensive Specialist of the Year honor, while Tatiana Tiangco earned an America East Co-Rookie of the Year award.  The staff of head coach MJ Engstrom, associate head coach Josh Pickard and assistant coach Traci Vandegrift are honored as the America East Coaching Staff of the Year.

Three Great Danes earned America East All-Conference recognition, with Otero and Akuabata Okenwa being placed on the First Team and Kelly Cameron being put on the Second Team.  In addition, Tiangco and Danielle Tedesco were selected to the America East All-Rookie Team and Chloe Evering was honored on the America East All-Academic Team.

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