SU continues strong ACC performance with win over Georgia Tech

Led by Silvi Uattara on offense and Melina Violas on defense, the women's volleyball team swept the Yellow Jackets in three sets for its fourth win in five matches.

The Syracuse University women’s volleyball team extended its winning streak Friday after another ACC victory, this time against Georgia Tech under the lights of the Carrier Dome. The game marked the third time the Orange played in the Carrier Dome this season, but is the first time the team won. The win also boosted the Orange to 6-1 in Friday matches against unranked opponents.

Syracuse (9-12, 4-5 ACC) continues its recent clobbering of competition. The Orange swept Georgia Tech (7-14, 1-8 ACC) in straight sets by a score of 25-18, 25-22, and 25-19. Syracuse is now riding a three-game winning streak – all ACC matches – and has won four of its last five contests.

The efforts of Silvi Uattara on the offensive end proved to be cataylst for the Orange. The sophomore outside hitter notched a team-high 18 points, 13 kills, and four service aces. She also contributed eight digs and closely missed out on a fourth straight double-double.

“In the beginning of the season, I was playing in the back row…now I’m playing all around and I feel like it’s helping me play on the front so much better,” said Uattara. “It’s making me more confident.”

Syracuse’s strategic offense was solid yet again, but the Orange’s calling card against Georgia Tech was on defense. Led by junior Melina Violas, who totaled a season-high 16 digs in the match, Syracuse was able to counter the Yellow Jackets on numerous occasions. The Orange outnumbered Georgia Tech in digs, block assists and total blocks.

Violas has been a catalyst for Syracuse’s defense and become an integral asset. Since her insertion into the regular rotation, Violas has recorded double-digit digs in each of the team’s last six matches. Her consistent play has stabilized the team’s back-line defense, and as a result, the Orange has found ways to win.

“I think the main thing that I needed to work on was coming to game-day more mentally prepared,” Violas said after the win. “To do that, I just have tried taking practices more like a game-day and changed my mental attitude and it’s really been helping me on the court.”

Head coach Leonid Yelin also noticed the impact Violas has made on the team. Yelin has been admittedly surprised by her rapid improvement and effectiveness over the past few weeks.

“She’s playing very consistently in the defensive zone,” Yelin said about Violas. “It’s better than I expected.”

The win against Georgia Tech marked the 501st win of Coach Yelin’s career. Last Sunday, Syracuse defeated Pittsburgh in four sets to give Yelin his 500th head coaching victory, which garnered multiple, happy reactions.

“I know this is going to sound silly but if my players didn’t remind me, I wouldn’t have even remembered it,” Yelin claimed. “It’s more exciting to start winning with this team. The last four wins mean so much more to me than the previous 496.”

Syracuse hits the hardwood again this Sunday at 1 p.m. against Clemson (11-9, 5-4 ACC) at the Women’s Building. The Orange is in hopes of continuing its streak to four straight ACC victories and reaching an even 5-5 conference record.

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