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With playoff hopes alive, Syracuse takes to road

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ The Syracuse volleyball team’s road to the playoffs in Pittsburgh is taking a detour through New Jersey. A detour that involves two stops for two matches the Orange needs to win before it can continue on that road to the Big East tournament. ‘This is a big weekend for us,’ outside hitter Mindy Stanislovaitis said. ‘It’s just important to come out and play hard and get the wins.’ The Orange (22-6, 4-6 Big East) is entering into its most crucial time of the season, most likely needing at least three wins in its final four matches to clinch a playoff berth. SU is looking to get two of those wins this weekend against Seton Hall (11-15, 5-5) and Rutgers (10-14, 2-8).   When Syracuse was dominating its non-conference opponents on its way to the best start in program history, the playoffs seemed right around the corner. Pittsburgh never seemed so close. But now the host city for the Big East tournament seems like it’s getting further and further away. Still, it’s close enough. When it hits the road this weekend, the Orange will undoubtedly know what’s on the line.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘We don’t want to have to rely on anyone else to get into the tournament, we want it to be on our terms,’ outside hitter Hayley Todd said. ‘That’s why it’s critical for us to win these games.’ The final four matches of Syracuse’s season are, by far, the most important ones. The Orange closes out its season against the top two teams in the Big East — Cincinnati and Louisville. Both teams have just one conference loss, and both have already clinched a spot in the playoffs. Both teams won’t have much to play for at that point, which could be an advantage for SU. Win or lose, both teams are in. Syracuse could take advantage of that timing and manage to get two wins in its final weekend against two teams whose focus could already be on the playoffs. But first, the Orange has to take care of the Pirates and Scarlet Knights. Or else, whatever the team does the final weekend won’t matter. Seton Hall will be up for a fight. Like Syracuse, it’s vying for a playoff berth. Rutgers, on the other hand, is likely out. With just two conference wins, the Scarlet Knights look like a long shot to be making a postseason trip to Pittsburgh. SU’s best chance to get a victory will be against Rutgers. ‘Rutgers keeps getting better, year after year,’ SU assistant coach Carol LaMarche said. ‘But I think Seton Hall’s going to be the tougher one.’ SU hasn’t exactly been a road warrior this season. Four of Syracuse’s six conference losses have been on the road. But this weekend, the road may actually be of help to the Orange. There will be no distractions. The only focus will be on volleyball and the two wins Syracuse needs to get. Plus, for SU, there’s always added gratification to celebrate a win on another court. ‘You feel like you get a lot more accomplished when we’re on the road,’ Stanislovaitis said. ‘It’s definitely nice to take a team on its home court.’ Still, there’s nothing easy about going on the road with the added pressure of knowing that there’s no choice but to win. But for the Orange, that’s the reality of this weekend. As hard as it could be, as much pressure as there is, this is what it has come down to. Four final matches and, in all likelihood, three needed victories. That’s what’s keeping the Orange from getting back on the road to the playoffs. This weekend, it’s all about beating Seton Hall and Rutgers. For Syracuse, there’s no shortage of playoff hunger. Every player wants to continue on that road to the postseason. ‘It’s definitely something all of us want,’ Stanislovaitis said.  ‘All of us have a desire to win.’ [email protected] Published on November 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_isemancenter_img Commentslast_img

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