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In the middle of the second set, Syracuse outside hitter Polina Shemanova powerfully spiked the ball from the right towards Wake Forest’s defensive specialist Kalani Whillock, who couldn’t handle the kill. Following an Orange timeout, Shemanova killed the ball — Shemanova’s 19th kill — right towards Wake Forest, who dug the ball high and behind its bench.
Syracuse (13-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) defeated Wake Forest (9-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) in four sets behind a steady front-line performance supplemented by a strong Shemanova attack and service game. On the night, besides her 19 kills, Shemanova also recorded 42 total attacks as well as five service aces.
Throughout the match, Syracuse developed an attack set for Shemanova and the other outside hitters. Abby Casiano’s decoys on kill attempts would allow Elena Karakasi to set up Shemanova, who usually would place the ball to where the Demon Deacons couldn’t defend or where it would be dug, which occasionally led to Wake Forest errors setting up their attack.
Towards the end of the first set, one of Shemanova’s kills was on the receiving end of an assist from Karakasi after being decoyed by Karakasi, putting the Orange up 23-18 in the set. Three points later, after a long rally between the sides, a Shemanova kill earned Syracuse the first set 25-19.
Syracuse would go on to win two of the next three sets, clinching the victory and its second straight against the Demon Deacons. Last season, the Orange won in straight sets.
Shemanova was versatile in her kill shots, striking from the left side, right and center of the court. Regardless of where she was in the match, she had a strong, accurate spike.
Power is not her primary strategy when crafting kill shots. Instead, she focuses on determining her strategy of placing shots rather than using all her power, which can sometimes be unsuccessful.
“When I’m being smart on the court, I can place the ball where it should be,” Shemanova said.
Her serves created problems for the Demon Deacons defense and attack set-ups. This season, Shemanova said improving her serve by utilizing a top-spin style technique that causes difficulty for defenders was her top priority.
In the first set, it was Shemanova’s turn to serve. She lifted the ball high in the air, jumped, and forcefully hit the ball down the center of the court, resulting in an ace to give the Orange a 14-12 lead. On the next point, Shemanova recorded another ace using the same technique as SU went on a 3-0 run to go up 15-12. SU never trailed or was tied for the remainder of the set.
After one of her serves in the second set, a member of the crowd mimicked the sound of a race car passing by the crowd while after all of her serves, the crowd would always make comments regarding the strength of her serve.
In the beginning of the second set, it was once again Shemanova’s turn to serve and SU went on a 5-0 scoring run to go up 7-3. In the middle of the third set, SU went on a 4-0 run to lead the Demon Deacons 7-5. Shemanova served each time, and her serve and kills resulted in tough digs, poorly designed Wake Forest attacks and free balls sent back over to Syracuse.
However, Shemanova said she doesn’t think her serve has evolved over the season despite the difficulty it can cause for opposing defenses.
“Every day is different,” Shemanova said. “I can play one day, I can play really good. One game I can play really bad. Today was just the day.”
The post Polina Shemanova records 19 kills, 42 total attacks in Syracuse victory appeared first on The Daily Orange.