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Syracuse’s improvement comes from upgraded service game

first_imgMaking a mistake while serving during a Syracuse practice warrants a run. But head coach Leonid Yelin doesn’t punish his players without reason. In fact, he says he doesn’t punish them at all.“Consequences, not punishment,” said Yelin, who has more than 30 years of coaching experience.Syracuse has reaped the rewards of the extra runs, raising its aces per set nearly half an ace more than last year. After a 2016 season in which the Orange finished 7-23 and averaged just 0.796 aces per set — tied for 324th out of 329 Division I teams — Syracuse is off to a 9-6 start, in large part due to its improved rate of aces.The Orange sits at 1.25 aces per set, with 70 in 56 sets. That’s just 20 fewer aces than it accumulated last year, in 113 sets.“If you’re serving easy, it becomes really difficult for you to play defense right after that,” associate head coach Erin Little said. “It’s huge. If you can serve strong and put a lot of pressure on a team, you’re going to keep the momentum on your side.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“But if you get a huge point and then you follow it up with an easy serve, they’re going to crush it right back in your face, and the momentum keeps going back and forth.”Syracuse is 6-0 this season when it has more aces than opponents. One of the Orange’s three wins this year while being out-served occurred last week in its conference opener against Boston College. To improve on its 6-14 conference record last season, SU will have to replicate the same serving success.“Having a stronger serve automatically is going to make you a better blocking team, which is naturally one of our strengths,” Little said.It’s been a breakout year for Annie Bozzo, who leads the team in aces (16) and assists (326) after serving as a backup last year. The setter hasn’t always been a great server, though. Increased attentiveness in practice and a change in style has led to Bozzo’s success.“I came in a little unsure and nervous, and now I’m much more confident,” Bozzo said, “and I actually went from a top spin to a float serve back to a top spin, so it’s just all changing every day.”She explained that the team practices serving for 15 minutes each day. Bozzo said she takes pride in controlling the service game.The development across the board of the team’s service game has been a significant part of the Orange’s improvement this year. It’s been thanks in part to the simple changes implemented in practice. Missing a serve means two laps around the court, Kendra Lukacs said.In 56 sets this year, Lukacs, a sophomore outside hitter, has tallied 11 aces, the same total she notched last year in 96 sets.“I think that if you got a tough-serving team, everything else can almost come secondary to that,” Lukacs said. Comments Published on September 24, 2017 at 11:31 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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