SU volleyball libero Williams returns, guides Orange to victory

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Ashley Williams is back, and so is her team. Williams returned to the court Sunday against St. John’s and led the Syracuse volleyball team in a dominating 3-0 sweep. ‘It felt great to be back,’ said Williams, the team’s libero. ‘I was just really happy that I could contribute to the team, and I’m glad that we ended up with a win.’ Williams, who missed the previous five games, led SU to the sweep, following the team’s shaky win without her against Connecticut on Friday. Against UConn and without Williams, the team started off slow, losing the first set. The Orange began to resemble the team that fell to USF and Villanova in previous Big East matches. Something seemed to be missing. Against UConn and in the other four games Williams missed, the team managed to get by, but its comfort level was not there. ‘Good chemistry and good communication back there makes a difference,’ senior Hayley Todd said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text So with Williams back as libero for the first time in nearly two weeks, the Orange looked like the team that got off to fast starts in its 17-0 start to the season. Even though Williams’ addition changed the lineup, it did not seem to matter. In fact, SU looked more complete in going back to its original lineup. ‘Everybody pretty much knows our offense and our defense, so it’s not really different. It’s just getting back into what I did before,’ Williams said. Despite not being at full strength, Williams’ leadership in the back row proved to be just as important as her talent against the Red Storm. Her voice could be heard loud and clear from the stands, as she directed her teammates on court. ‘That’s kind of what you want your libero to do,’ assistant coach Carol LaMarche said. ‘They’re like your captain in the back row, so she does do that, and she talks to players about making adjustments without having to consult the coaches. And we trust her judgment. And she has a better view of the court than we do.’ Against UConn, the team did not have Williams available to dictate anything on the court. Instead, SU had her sitting on the bench. The Orange was forced to figure things out without her. The defense responded after the first-set loss. Led by fill-in libero Sarah Hayes, the team came out in the second set and responded. ‘We just went out there ready to play. We were digging balls finally, getting into the holes,’ Hayes said. ‘I think everyone was just going for the ball more. We were more proactive.’ Still, the team was not jelling as quickly as it had in earlier matches with Williams as libero. So when Williams returned against St. John’s, that sense of comfort seemed to return. ‘Everyone just seemed a little more comfortable,’ LaMarche said. ‘Sarah did the best that she could do when she was doing libero, but right side is where she has been for the last two or three years, so that was just like going back to home for her. And I think it kind of gave everyone else a little bit of comfort that Ashley was back, so that might have helped out, too.’ No one is complaining about having Williams back. Yes, the team stayed afloat without her. But with her, the Orange knows what it is capable of. Syracuse knows she takes the defense up another level. Todd said Williams’ leadership and skill move the whole defense up a notch. And with the team heading into the thick of Big East play right now, Williams’ return will prove crucial in how the team will do the rest of the way. ‘She’s a leader out there,’ LaMarche said. ‘She’s just a good player. It was like she hadn’t left the game for two weeks or three weeks. It was just nice. Everything flowed today, and I think we were back up to a good level.’ rnmarcus@syr.educenter_img Published on October 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Rachel: rnmarcus@syr.edulast_img