Syracuse drops 3rd-straight match in 3-1 loss to North Carolina

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In its third game of a four-game road trip, Syracuse (5-11, 2-7 Atlantic Coast) lost its third match in a row, this time 3-1 to North Carolina (9-10, 6-3).

Syracuse struggled to produce much offense outside of Polina Shemanova, who racked up game-high 23 kills. Ella Saada, who entered averaging 11.73 kills per match this season, tallied just six kills, to go along with seven attacking errors. Without Saada’s typical offensive production, freshman middle blocker Abby Casiano provided a career-high seven kills.

The first set was tightly contested early on as SU and UNC exchanged scoring runs. Two late 3-0 SU runs, separated only be a Shemanova service error, brought the Orange within one point, trailing 19-18. Eventually, UNC was able to close out the set, taking it 25-21.

To begin the second set, it looked like the Tar Heels would continue to pull away, opening the set with four straight points. The run seemed to wake up Syracuse. The Orange proceeded to win the next eight points, including five straight UNC attacking errors before a Berkley Hayes service error halted SU’s run. From there, the teams traded points, with neither outfit able to build a lead greater than three points. Following an Elena Karakasi kill that put the Orange ahead 23-22, UNC took a timeout. After the break, the Tar Heels won three straight points to win the set 25-23. Losing the second set marked eight straight sets lost for Syraucse, dating back to an Oct. 18 3-1 loss to Miami.

The third set followed the pattern of the first two, with SU and UNC largely exchanging points. Consecutive aces from Hayes sparked some momentum for the Orange, as it eventually jumped out to a 20-14 lead. SU survived a few scares from the UNC, including a 4-0 Tar Heel run, but Shemanova bookended the set with kills as SU took the set 25-21.

UNC quickly asserted an 8-3 advantage in the fourth set. By this point in the match, SU was struggling to produce anything on offense outside of Shemanova, who single-handedly kept the set respectable by providing seven of the Orange’s 10 kills in the set. Ultimately, the Tar Heels comfortably took the set 25-17.

Up next for Syracuse is the final game of its road trip as it faces North Carolina State on Sunday.

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