Published on September 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm Head coach Leonid Yelin finally had his starting lineup.Yelin spent the first three weeks of the season giving players opportunities and working around injuries, but he believes the lineup he sent out against Albany Saturday evening is his team’s best.Kicking off its final nonconference tournament, Syracuse (6-4) defeated Albany (2-8) in three straight sets to open the Otto Invitational at the Women’s Building. After controlling the first two sets with relative ease, the Orange was put to the test in a tough third.Outside hitter Valeriya Shaipova played more points than she had in previous games as she continues to work her way back from an ACL injury, but it was junior Silvi Uattara who scored three straight kills to get SU within one point of the Great Danes late in the third.With Albany leading 23-22, middle blocker Monika Salkute spiked home a kill to tie it up.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We needed a left-side hitter in the end,” Yelin said. “Valeriya was moving to the right side and Monika to the left side as an outside hitter.”He said the team is asking a lot of Salkute, who played multiple positions Saturday en route to 14 kills and eight blocks.After splitting the next two points, Great Danes’ outside hitter Olivia Shonewise stepped back to serve and handed the Orange a point by sending the ball into the net. Yelin then took starting setter Gosia Wlaszczuk out of for match point.“When she was blocking right before that, she didn’t do the right things at all,” Yelin said. “I looked at her face and I knew she needed time to get over this.”The Orange took the match when Uattara tapped the ball to an open space on the Albany side of the court for the kill. The set ended 27-25.Aside from the final points of the game, Yelin felt Wlaszczuk played well, tallying 37 assists and six kills, the latter of which Yelin said is high for a setter.“She’s getting kills, tipping, aggressive, she’s acting like a hitter too,” he said.In the first two sets, which the Orange won 25-20 and 25-10, the team stayed in its system by staying focused, digging balls and getting controlled first touches.“The block was carrying us not only as a part of defense but also as a transition into offense,” Yelin said.The Orange registered 20 blocks on the day to Albany’s six.Yelin also started walk-on freshman Belle Sand at libero for the first time, after playing her last weekend. Additionally, Salkute was able to start again at middle blocker after being forced into Shaipova’s outside role the past few weeks. Shaipova played most of the match but was subbed out regularly to rest her knee.“Valeriya (is) obviously nothing close to 100% but we all understood and accepted it as a team,” Yelin said.The Orange takes on Colgate (3-4) and Cornell (2-4) Sunday in the Women’s Building at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m in their final tournament games before Atlantic Coast Conference play begins next week. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
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