First-set wins have been key for Syracuse this season

first_img Published on November 6, 2017 at 10:41 pm Contact David: ddschnei@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+ Since the beginning of the season, Syracuse’s aggression to begin games has helped it get out to early leads and win opening sets, something it failed to do a year ago.Last season, the Orange won the opening set just seven times, a large factor for its 7-23 record. The team was young and inexperienced, head coach Leonid Yelin said, and as a result, it often took some players longer to adjust to the speed and intensity at the start of games.This year, Syracuse (17-10, 9-5 Atlantic Coast) has left its mistakes behind and learned the importance and impact of a strong start on a game. Syracuse has taken a 1-0 set lead 17 times this season. SU’s first-set success coincides with a much improved record and its players have made a conscious effort to start matches hot.“We’ve worked a lot on starting sets faster,” junior Kendra Lukacs said. “The first set is really important. You definitely want to have that one set advantage.”When the Orange gains an early advantage, it usually wins the first set and the game. When it doesn’t, it typically results in losses.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse was on the wrong end of an opening set run against North Carolina State on Nov. 3, when a 4-4 deadlock quickly turned into a 10 point deficit after an 11-1 run by the Wolfpack. SU went on to get blown out the first set, 11-25, and lost match, 3-0.Against Georgia Tech on Sept. 28, the Orange’s hitters powered a 6-1 run early on, and went on to win the first set, 25-18, and the match, 3-0. Gaining a four or five point advantage early in a set reduces pressure and gives players confidence, senior Belle Sand said.“We do this thing, ‘bang, bang, bang’ before every match,” Sand said. “We go in hard for three sets, and that’s all you need.”Along with victories, Syracuse has enjoyed shorter matches when winning the first set. Twelve of the Orange’s 26 matches this year have lasted longer than three sets, an occurrence the team hopes to avoid due to the mental and physical strain on players.When players are fatigued in practice, Syracuse practices fifth-set situations, forcing players to focus on making smart decisions like they would have to in a match, as a few slipups can cost a team the set and the game. Against Bryant on Sept. 15, the Orange allowed a service ace and committed two ball handling errors early in the fifth set, and went on to lose, 10-15.“Usually when it’s 8-8, you’re all loose, thinking ‘This game’s to 25,’” Sand said. “But in reality, you’re already half way.”With looming matchups against No. 22 Louisville and Miami, which are both ahead of Syracuse in the ACC standings, it is important for the Orange to continue starting games hot.“In every game you play, it doesn’t matter which sport,” Yelin said. “It’s always good to start on the right foot.” Commentslast_img read more