Being unranked and playing the No. 4 team in New York is certainly a daunting position to be in, but the volleyball team more than stepped up to the challenge, defeating Ithaca College 3-0 Tuesday night, after defeating St. John Fisher College 3-1 last Thursday.

The win against St. John Fisher was a key morale boost for the Yellowjackets, who had just come off a 3-0 loss to fellow Eastern College Athletic Conference member, Rochester Institute of Technology and an 11th place finish at RIT’s tournament last week.

The team knew what they had to change to regain their momentum from their 9-1 season start and went into the game confident that they could get the job done.

In the first game, they came out strong, picking up their intensity from the previous week, and it paid off when they won the first game, 30-20.

Despite dropping the second game 30-17, UR rediscovered their intensity and came back to win the last two games 30-23 and 30-25, to close out the match.

“We used the third game to try and regain our focus from the first game and did,” sophomore Jessica Sorrentino said. “[Although] the last game was the closest it always felt like we were in control.”

Key players included juniors Sam Carr who had 46 assists, eight kills and 29 digs, and captain Susan Johnson with 27 kills and 30 digs and Andrea Wagonseller with 20 digs and eight kills.

Additionally, senior Kate Czarniak totaled 11 kills, five service aces, seven digs and two block assists. Senior Haley Massa notched eight kills and made four blocks, and sophomore Katilyn Gorczynski dug 18. Sorrentino killed four and dug 18.

Tuesday’s match versus Ithaca College, a team the Yellowjackets fell to 0-3 at the RIT tournament, demonstrated a team prepared both mentally and physically to work hard and win.

The Yellowjackets came out firing, taking the first game 30-23 and forcing a timeout when they took the first four points of the second game as well.

Although Ithaca came back to bring the game within a few points, the Yellowjackets still pulled off a 30-27 win with contributions from the bench as well as the starters. In the third, and what would be the final game, Ithaca again kept the game close, until a big net play at the end gave the Yellowjackets the win, 30-24.

The difference between Tuesday’s win and the loss from two weeks ago was tenacity.

“It’s like running a mile,” head coach Linda Downey said. “You can jog it, or you can sprint it. We gave 150 percent this week. Who cares if we’re drained in the end?”

And sprint it they did, with stellar performances by Johnson who made 24 kills and 21 digs.

Czarniak contributed to the team’s win with 10 kills and two blocks. Massa totaled five kills and two blocks, Carr had 40 assists and 22 digs and Gorczynski dug out 17.

Going into this weekend’s University Athletic Association round robin tournament at Case Western Reserve University, the 12-5 Yellowjackets feel prepared and pumped to play.

In a conference that includes nationally ranked No. 1 Washington University in St. Louis, No. 3 Emory University and No. 6 New York University, they find their motivation from beating another highly ranked team. Downey promises even more great performances in the future, as the team is just starting to come out of the closet.

Winn can be reached at

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