Syracuse volleyball’s defense struggles against Florida State’s low serves in 3-1 loss

Sabrina Koenig | Staff Photographer

Syracuse defense had a hard time dealing with Florida State's serves and as a result its defense did not fare well.

As the ball hit the court for the final point of the second set, the gym went silent. The crowd let out a collective sigh as Florida State pounded the ball to the floor of the Women’s Building. Syracuse’s players buried their heads and proceeded to jog back to the conference room for their halftime meeting.

“(I) could keep going on and on and on (about) whatever I’m saying,” Syracuse head coach Leonid Yelin said, explaining that the team suffered mental lapses. “They can hear you but they can’t focus on what you’re saying.”

It was overall disappointing game for SU. The Orange (7-19, 6-10 Atlantic Coast) scored just nine points in the second set — the worst set of its season — and struggled defensively throughout the game en route to a 3-1 loss to No. 18 Florida State (20-5, 13-3) at home.

FSU’s serving was a problem for the Orange all game long. The Seminoles served the ball hard and low to the net, which SU’s players had trouble judging and often had to dive for. It got bad enough to where middle blocker Leah Levert, who was standing at the front of the net, turned to her teammates in the back to yell out that FSU was “going to serve quickly.”

Off one Florida State serve, Mackenzie Weaver reached down for a ball near the ground and it ricocheted off of her forearm and sideways into the court. She smacked her hand against the court in frustration following the Florida State point.

“They are a very good serving team,” Weaver said. “That’s what we try to focus on. We try to keep it low and quick to the net so it’s hard for the defense to read.”

In large part due to the serving by Florida State, the Orange recorded 73 digs and was forced to make a lot of desperation saves to stay alive in the point. Belle Sand, Syracuse’s leader in digs, as well as teammate Jalissa Trotter led the team with 18 digs each and five SU players had 11 digs or more.

The digs were inflated due to the high volume of attack attempts from FSU, in addition to the Orange misreading some of the Seminoles’ serving trajectories causing them to have to make the diving saves off the initial serve attempt.

“You know we have a great block. We out block a lot of teams,” said Sand, “But we can’t just rely on the block, defensively we do need to step up. Today we did step up, but obviously you can only go up from here.”

Syracuse’s inability to catch on to Florida State’s serving patterns as well as the large amount of attacks from the Seminoles took the life out of the Orange defense. It led to a disastrous second set and another disappointing loss for SU.

“How we played in the second set was not okay,” said Weaver, “we don’t work so hard in the gym every day to lose like that. It’s not fun.”


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