After record start, Syracuse volleyball outside Big East tournament picture

first_img Comments When the Syracuse volleyball team beat Georgetown on Sept. 24 to improve to 17-0, the Orange seemed like a shoo-in to roll into the Big East tournament. SU, after all, had the best record of any Big East team. Then again, conference play had just started. And since then, not much has gone right in conference play for the Orange (23-7, 5-7). ‘The Big East is not that predictable,’ SU assistant coach Carol LaMarche said. The Orange has found that out the hard way. After its win over the Hoyas, SU lost to USF, giving the team its first mark in the loss column on the season. The Orange has gone 6-7 since that win over the Hoyas and is now in serious danger of missing the Big East tournament. What seemed like a given just over a month ago must now be accomplished with some scratching and clawing. SU still has two Big East games left against Cincinnati and Louisville. That means the Orange will likely have to win both games this weekend to make the tournament and hope that Pittsburgh, the team directly ahead of SU, slips up. It will have to beat the top two teams in the league. Not an easy task for a team that has struggled mightily in Big East play following its non-conference perfection.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘There’s a lot more pressure when it comes to Big East games,’ senior Hayley Todd said. ‘In preseason, there’s not as much pressure.’ SU got off to a program record 17-0 start, although 16 of those wins came against lesser foes in the non-conference schedule. They were games the team expected to win. Still, the Orange dominated many of those games and appeared to be one of the premier teams in the Big East. The chemistry seemed there despite the loss of key seniors and girls stepping into new positions. ‘When we were playing in games, we were fairly relaxed and just had nothing to lose and kind of went all out,’ LaMarche said of the early part of the season. ‘And we were just putting things together and winning.’ Then came the downfall. The Orange opened up the Big East schedule with the win over Georgetown. But what followed were injuries and lineup changes, along with the loss of any momentum the team had. From Oct. 16 to Oct. 29, the Orange lost four straight Big East games. It was no longer looking for a top five seed in the Big East tournament. It was just looking to make it, period. The competition of the Big East got to be too much. There was more talent from the other teams. More pressure. Whatever the reason, SU has been unable to get on any kind of a roll in conference play. But the Orange has one more chance. And it could be the team’s only chance, needing a sweep over the Big East’s top two teams. ‘We had a few rough spots here and there,’ senior Mindy Stanislovaitis said of the team’s previous struggles in Big East play. ‘Our ultimate goal is still the Big East tournament, and it’s still definitely a possibility. Even if people are tired, it’s kind of got to be put behind us now, and we just have to push to the finish.’ Beating Cincinnati and Louisville would have seemed more realistic at the beginning of the season, but topping those two teams this weekend is still possible. If SU can get back to playing like it has nothing to lose, then there is a chance that it can pull off both upsets. ‘I hope they don’t think that this is the only level they can play,’ LaMarche said. ‘Because I saw things at the beginning like against Kent State when we were craving the competition and were ready to take it on. ‘Each individual girl has to sit there and pump themselves up and pull that out of themselves.’ If that happens, then the team that started 17-0 but fell down so quickly may actually make the conference tournament. And then a program-record start would not have to go to waste. ‘We’re still working as hard as we can,’ Todd said. ‘We’re still trying to produce as well as we can. You can’t take away a best start in school history.’ [email protected] Published on November 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Rachel: [email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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