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Syracuse (11-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) defeated South Alabama (7-5, 0-0 Sun Belt) in four sets on Sunday to wrap up the Hail State Invitational in Starkville, Mississippi. The win completes a sweep of the tournament field, as the Orange beat the host Mississippi State 3-1 on Friday, and Jackson State 3-1 on Saturday.
The first set began with both teams trading kills, but outside hitter Polina Shemanova started to shine through later in the set. When the Orange held a 9-7 lead, Shemanova accounted for five of their nine points with four kills and a service ace. While Shemanova was in her groove, Syracuse extended its lead to five points. But later in the set, South Alabama went on a 5-point run to tie it up 15-15. Syracuse stayed calm and rattled off six kills in the next 12 plays to get it to set point at 24-19. Shemanova had seven kills, five digs and a service ace in the set.
In the second set, Syracuse started quickly again going up 7-3 as setter Elena Karakasi fed outside hitters for four quick kills. After that, South Alabama took the lead and never looked back. The Orange struggled with individual errors, with nine throughout the set. Nevertheless, Syracuse tied it up at 21 points, but South Alabama finished the set out with three straight kills to win 25-22.
The beginning of the third set was sloppy from both teams, with a combined five errors on the court in the first 10 plays. The set was tied at 5-5, but then Marina Markova started to settle in. Markova struck down four kills in just six plays, and the Orange sported an 11-7 lead. Then, Shemanova and Naomi Franco took their turn. Shemanova recorded three kills and a solo block, and Franco got a kill of her own and a service ace. With that, the Orange shot up to a 21-12 lead, one they wouldn’t lose.
Syracuse took that momentum into the fourth set, with an avalanche of kills by five of the seven starters that brought the game to 10-4. Then, Markova showed out with five kills and a service ace that put the Orange up 19-11. Three straight kills brought the Jaguars back into the game, but the Orange responded with five kills by four different players. They won 25-17 on a Markova kill set up by Karakasi.
Markova led the Orange in kills for the third straight game with 19, but Shemanova wasn’t far behind her at 17. Also, Syracuse as a whole dominated in kills, as it slammed down 14 more than South Alabama. Karakasi secured a whopping 48 assists, and outside hitter Yuliia Yastrub continued to deliver on defense with 17 digs.
The victory has Syracuse 11-1 going into its first ACC matchup on Wednesday against Boston College.
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