Blocking remains SU’s strength as the Orange open 6th ACC season

first_img Published on September 20, 2018 at 9:36 am Contact Eric: estorms@syr.edu Comments During Sunday’s match, Syracuse trailed 11-9 to Iowa State in a critical fourth set with the Cyclones up, 2-1. Two plays later, the game was tied because of three SU blocks. The Orange never trailed again, won the fourth set and eventually the fifth to win the match.Great blocking teams have become a hallmark of SU head coach Leonid Yelin’s tenure, and that trend has continued this season. Syracuse (4-4) ranks 17th in the nation with 2.73 blocks per set. That’s on par with the numbers of SU volleyball since joining ACC play in 2013, averaging between 2.58 and 3.12 blocks per set each year.“This is a very important part of, if not the most important part, of your defense,” Yelin said.The Orange’s height helps, but Yelin said he always emphasizes blocking just the same. Redshirt senior Amber Witherspoon, the team leader in blocks with 43, stands at 6-foot-4. Santita Ebangwese, second with 41, is 6 feet tall.The key for Ebangwese is “experience” in knowing how she and her opponents play.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I watch film, I look where their tendencies are to hit,” Ebangwese said. “I see how they swing, so in a game if I know how they swing, I kind of know which direction they’re going to hit so I can block.”Syracuse watches a lot of film not only of opponents, but themselves. Sometimes, Yelin will bring his players off the practice floor to go watch their own tape. The players might think they’re doing something correctly, but they’re not actually executing it the way they think they are, Yelin said. So, he wants the Orange to see for themselves.But during games, preparation and anticipation only go so far. Witherspoon called blocking “muscle memory.”“There’s no time to think when the ball is like two seconds out of the setter’s hand, you just have to move,” Witherspoon said. “So those repetitions in practice definitely help when gameday happens, and you just have to do instead of thinking.”Senior Jalissa Trotter said blocking is more about reacting than anticipating in the heat of the game. She added communication in the front row is important. Blocking, Trotter said, is what separates the top teams from the rest of the pack.“Once you start going up against those more disciplined teams, blocking is actually something that is a huge focus,” Trotter said. “… I think that since we are really focusing on blocking more often that we can get more stops, we can set up defense, we can get more balls up, we can really run a good offense based on our blocking.”Yelin and his coaching staff understand that. Because the staff have high blocking expectations, Ebangwese said, SU works to reach them.With so much preparation, the only thing left for the Orange is to recreate what they do in practice on game day.“We scout the other team, we know what we need to do (with) our blocking scheme and blocking plan, and all we really need to do is execute and stay on task,” Ebangwese said. “We hold ourselves to higher standards, so we want to be the best.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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