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Syracuse volleyball: 2023 season preview

Photo by Michael Ostrowski

2022 was an abrupt transition year for Syracuse Orange volleyball. Leonid Yelin unexpectedly resigned as head coach during the previous offseason, leading SU to hire Bakeer Ganesharatnam from Temple as his replacement. He previously spent eleven seasons coaching the Owls, winning 173 total games, including four seasons with 20+.

That wasn’t the case last year, as the Orange went 11-17 (7-11 in ACC). Still, it wasn’t a season without its moments. Most notably, Polina Shemanova became the program's all-time kills leader, tallying 1,845 over her five-year career.

Now she’s back with the team as an assistant coach - but only for one year, as she’s signed to a professional contract beginning in Spring 2024. The top four scorers from last season have all departed in one form or another, so this group will look very different.

Five freshmen joined the program: Greta Schlichter, Veronica Sierzant (pictured below), Sydnie Waller, Zharia Harris-Waddy, and Mira Ledermueller.

Syndication: Savannah Morning News Dennis Knight / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Also new to the team are several transfers. Lauren McCabe was one of Seattle University’s all-time best blockers; now, she’ll spend her grad year in Syracuse. A trio of others all came in after two seasons elsewhere: Laila Smith (Alabama), Klara Zarnovicka (FAU), and Cherlin Antonio (Iowa Western).

Defensive Specialist Alyssa Bert and team blocks leader Raina Hughes are the only major returning players for the Orange. We’ll see how quickly these newcomers can gel on the court when the team starts play this weekend.

Syracuse was picked 14th in the ACC Preseason Poll. Returning Final Four squads Louisville and Pitt were 1-2 in the poll.

Here’s the entire SU schedule, featuring a total of 11 home contests and 28 overall. Best of luck to these Orange student-athletes!