first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 13, 2013 at 2:41 am Contact Eric: [email protected] With the NCAA tournament looking like a long shot this season, and no Atlantic Coast Conference tournament at the end of the year, Syracuse has begun to look ahead to next season.The Orange (13-13, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) had a slow start to the season, but has since improved considerably. After beginning the season 1-6, SU has now battled back to .500 overall for the first time all season.“At the beginning we started poorly,” middle blocker Monika Salkute said, “and then when we get the teams that are at our level it felt really good to play against them.”With six games to play, Syracuse has a chance to finish the season on a 14-2 run. This would put Syracuse in contention for a possible spot in the NCAA tournament this season. Even so, the strong finish has provided a boost of confidence for players returning next season.“I think it should carry over,” setter Erica Handley said, “we kind of know the competition that we have to face. We have obviously adjusted quite a bit so we just have to keep improving.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU’s low point of the season came during a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season. This five-game losing streak began right as the Orange opened up ACC play, coincidence or not. This gave SU a slow 0-4 start in the new conference, indicating maybe they did not belong there.But now Syracuse has fought its way back to 8-6 in conference play. In the past 10 games, the team is 8-2 overall, which is the best stretch Syracuse has had all season. Salkute explained that a recent shake up in the standings has left the Orange’s future as a contender up in the air.“It’s like you never know,” Salkute said, “Now that teams that are supposed to win are losing, and the teams that are not expected to win are winning. You can never know what happens next.”Knowing the level that the players should play at was a big step for the team, Handley said. After getting its first ACC win against Virginia, a new energy came across the team. Handley believes the team familiarizing itself with its opponents has helped the team and will ideally help SU segue into next year. “Obviously we have a long spring ahead of us and we have a couple tournaments,” outside hitter Nicolette Serratore said. “We just need to remember how we are playing right now and bring that back when we come next season.”Head coach Leonid Yelin added, “Absolutely. As a coach, when your players prove it and step up to the next level, you have to expect next year they will at least start on this level.”Every year, each team sets new goals. Yelin said that the goals for his team remain the same year in and year out — winning its conference and getting to the ACC tournament.“The difference is this is not a dream. It’s a goal,” Yelin said.The team will only lose seniors Samantha Clarey and Amanda Kullman. Clarey has played on a limited basis all season, while Kullman has not played once. Next season team captains Serratore and Lindsey McCabe will become seniors. They will once again be looked at to lead this team, maybe this time to the NCAA tournament. “I think and hope they are going to continue providing leadership on and off the court,” Yelin said. “I expect they are going to continue doing this next year.” Commentslast_img

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