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A look forward to Syracuse’s 1st-ever NCAA tournament appearance

first_img Published on November 28, 2018 at 11:56 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] Comments Sunday night, Syracuse crowded into a film room in the back of Manley Field House to watch itself qualify for the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament for the first time in program history. Senior Amber Witherspoon jumped out of her chair while most other players threw their hands up in celebrations. Many whipped out their phones to take pictures of Syracuse in the bracket on the screen. But Monday, the fun stopped.“It’s a business trip,” senior and All-ACC second team member Witherspoon said. “Ultimately it’s a great memory and it’s great that we can go down in history, but at the end of the day it’s still a business trip, we have to do what we have to do.”Syracuse (18-8, 14-4 Atlantic Coast) will play eight-seeded Yale (19-4, 13-1 Ivy League) at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30, at Penn State, the first of what the Orange is determined to make several tournament games. The winner of Penn State vs. Howard at 7:30 p.m. will play the winner of Syracuse’s game on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorAdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse, which is 36th in rating percentage index, matches up with Ivy League champions Yale, which rank 41st in RPI. But nothing about SU’s opponent stuck out to Orange head coach Leonid Yelin.“Every team you know who has made the 64 from my previous experience, they are good,” Yelin said. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t make it. Even some people think, ‘Yale is in the Ivy League’ but they are dominating in that league and they are getting a lot of really good players from all over the nation.”The only opponent Yale and Syracuse have had in common this season is New Hampshire. On Aug. 31, Syracuse beat New Hampshire in straight sets 3-0. On Sept. 7, New Hampshire beat Yale 3-1.“You don’t want to have people feel pressure,” Yelin said. “I said, ‘Enjoy this moment, guys. You got it, out of almost 360 teams, you’re there. Be happy. Just go there, lose there, just have fun playing … And whatever happens, happens. But please, you will be able to play the way  you know how to play. Don’t think it happens if you’re going to be tight. You’re not going to demonstrate what you’re actually capable of.’”While SU boasts All-ACC first team member senior Santita Ebangwese, the Orange have largely been driven by fellow first team member and ACC Freshman of the Year Polina Shemanova.Shemanova leads the Orange in kills with 425, almost 200 ahead of Ebangwese who has the second most with 237.“As a freshman, this is all new for me but I’m really excited because it’s the first time we made the NCAA tournament,” Shemanova said. “We did our best and it worked.”Despite the historic year for the program, the Orange still enter the tournament as an underdog. In Syracuse’s region alone stands No. 1 Stanford, No. 8 Penn State, No. 9 Creighton and No. 16 Washington State. Ebangwese said the role is something she loves.And for the seniors it’s not about just making the tournament. It’s not even about trying to win one game. The Orange want to prove something about the program and put the team on a path to make the tournament on a consistent basis.“We don’t want to make this just a one time thing, a Cinderella story,” Ebangwese said. “We want to create a legacy.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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