VB : Taller Syracuse wins battle at net, earns midweek sweep
After two weekend losses, it was Syracuse’s turn to overmatch an opponent Tuesday.
The Syracuse women’s volleyball team had more kills, more blocks and a better kill percentage than its opponent Siena, mostly due to the Orange’s ability to use its height and athletic ability to rise higher than the Saints at the net. Photo by Kris Wilson’>
SU used its physical advantage to sweep Siena, 3-0, Tuesday night at the Women’s Building in front of 211 fans. The Orange (19-12, 6-6) came into the game reeling after being swept this past weekend against St. John’s and Connecticut, but it put those bad memories aside to beat Siena (20-7). Cheryl Cobbina and Kacie MacTavish led the charge with 16 and 12 kills, respectively, while seven different players recorded blocks compared to four for Siena.
Although height is a factor that doesn’t always come into play, the Orange seemed to utilize its players’ height and leaping advantage to overmatch the Saints at the net. The Orange outblocked Siena, 9-4, and was often able to attack Siena’s defense without blocking at the front line. The Siena players were forced to recover from digging the Syracuse kills, compared to playing the ball off a block, which is easier to handle. SU finished with a kill percentage of .352 and seemed at times to be able to spike balls down at will.
Siena struggled to deal with SU’s tall blockers, including 6-foot-1 Sarah Morton and 6-foot Brittany Kern. The Saints had a kill percentage of .245, including a miniscule .032 in the final game.
‘It always helps being taller,’ Kern said. ‘So having a height advantage definitely helped us in getting this win. It’s very difficult if you’re playing against short players for them to hit over you. Hitting against a tall block is a struggle for any team.’
Kern went on to explain that the team has several hitters who can leap high enough to reach 10 feet in the air. Playing a Siena team unable to mount a challenge at the net, Kern said SU had several hitters who were able to hit over them, leading to more scoring opportunities.
SU assistant coach Carol LaMarche talked about the importance of being able to jump and kill over the opposing team’s block in the outcome of the match.
‘What we’re good at is hitting the ball higher, which will go off hands more or go over the block when we hit,’ LaMarche said. ‘Siena’s got a decent block, and they’ve got some powerful hitters; I think we point the ball a little higher than they do. If you can hit over the blocks, it’s hard for the defense to set up behind the block because usually, you’re hoping the block takes away a part of the court and that the player won’t be able to hit it behind the block.’
Two players that LaMarche credited with this approach included the Cobbina and Kern. The duo combined for 24 kills on 38 attacks. With SU leading Siena, 29-28, in the first game, Cobbina rose up high in the air for a kill and laid down the match winner without an attempt at a block from the opposing team.
SU cruised through the next two matches, 30-21 and 30-26, for the sweep.
‘Cheryl’s got a huge jump – she touches 10-feet-2,’ LaMarche said. ‘She can hit over Big East blocks, too. I know Siena’s a little shorter, and I don’t know if she got blocked at all tonight.’
Kern’s performance was also heralded by her fellow players. Morton said Kern stopped Siena’s middle attack and used her height to block the middle well.
‘I think Brittney did that pretty well in the middle even though she had two blockers up on her,’ LaMarche said. ‘She was able to get the ball through and that was mainly because she was hitting the ball higher and off their hands.’
Whether it was Cobbina or Kern or one of the many players who saw the action against the Saints, the Orange utilized it’s height to its advantage.
‘We definitely knew coming in that they were a shorter team and had a short setter,’ Kern said. ‘It was definitely helpful for a lot of our hitters knowing that we didn’t have giants that we were hitting against.’
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