There is fresh energy among the fall sports at Stony Brook University. The Seawolves are in a new athletic conference, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and student-athletes and coaches want to show their skills. The volleyball team has opened the season 2–0.
“We’ve made a lot of changes going into this year in terms of mostly our defense, but also our style of play and trying to take ownership over a little scrappier identity,” said head coach Kristin Belzung. “I’m excited about how the kids have bought into it and the way they’ve stepped up to the challenge.”
Practice officially began on August 8, but most of the team arrived on campus on July 5 for optional workouts. Belzung is pleased with the core upperclassman group, noting that the junior class had their first off-season last spring. Traditionally a fall sport, their freshman year play was moved to the spring due to the pandemic.
“We used the spring to develop them as both students and as athletes. I feel they really benefited from having that spring and they’ve come into their own and have walked into this season like upperclassmen, having a little bit of ownership over the program, having a different level of confidence. That’s allowing them to really help our incoming freshmen and transfers in getting acclimated,” said Belzung.
Stony Brook is extremely demanding academically. Belzung said these student-athletes chose Stony Brook because it is a university where they can have success in multiple areas. Their work ethic is reflected both in the classroom and in the gym. Several of the players on the volleyball team are pursuing health-related fields.
Two players to look out for this season are middle blocker Saige Bradley and setter Torri Henry. “Torri is one of the most competitive people I’ve met and in a really quiet way. The value that she adds to our gym is significant because she’s constantly trying to figure out how to win,” said Belzung. “Saige is the life of the party, the person that comes in every day with the same upbeat energy. She’s super competitive and is also the cheerleader and person that keeps our gym ticking at a high level from an energy standpoint.”
This weekend is the Stony Brook Invitational, and the Seawolves will face off against South Florida, Maryland and Georgetown.