Redshirt senior Christina Oyawale solid in return from ankle injury

first_imgChristina Oyawale struck a kill down the line in the first set to give the Orange a 23-18 lead. It was her first kill since Aug. 31 and her first game action since she missed her first game with an ankle injury on Sept. 7. Loud cheers echoed the Syracuse sideline, something Oyawale often plays a hand in conducting.“It’s like I never left,” she said. “My team was there to support me and I was back and we did what we had to do to win.”With four kills, the redshirt senior was one of six SU players to reach that mark on Sunday in the Women’s Building, helping lead Syracuse (6-4, 2-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 3-1 win over the Clemson Tigers (9-6, 0-2). Freshman Polina Shemanova led the team with 14 while Ella Saada and Amber Witherspoon tallied 11 each. Oyawale said she felt comfortable in her return.Head coach Leonid Yelin said he was pleased with what he saw out of Oyawale, especially considering it was her first game back. With injuries, he said, it’s not about rushing to get healthy but rather being able to get back to the same level of play.Syracuse has remained a top 25 team in blocks per set without the six-foot-four presence of Oyawale in its lineup the past three weeks, but 107 of their 118.5 blocks have come just from Witherspoon or Santita Ebangwese. Now, Oyawale — who had four blocks in two games of action prior to Sunday — is a helpful addition.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It takes a little bit of time,” Yelin said. “Good for us we could give this opportunity to her to get and start feeling the game, the ball, and clicking with the setter. Hopefully soon, she’s going to give us what she gave before in the first place.”Today, Oyawale contributed three total blocks, matching Jalissa Trotter and Witherspoon’s mark. Ebangwese collected five against the Tigers.Saada believed blocking was key in helping force 27 Clemson attack errors, nine more than SU’s 18. The Tigers also finished with a hitting percentage of just .178 to Syracuse’s .310.“We have [Christina], she just got back, Santita and Amber,” Saada said. “All of them are really tall, jumping high in the right place. I think we have a good block there.”Before the game, just like on Friday, Oyawale helped Ebangwese lead SU’s pregame chant. Only now, Oyawale could then go out and play. The team huddled in a circle with Ebangwese and Oyawale in the center shouting.“S who?” they yelled.“SU!” the team shouted in response.For Oyawale, being a starter doesn’t change anything about how amped she gets prior to games. But, during the game, when cheers were heard from the SU bench, she had a role in the momentum.“There really isn’t a difference because I have the same attitude when I’m not able to play,” she said. “…When I’m able to play, it’s the same energy but it was a great feeling being able to come out and give my team what they needed from me.” Comments Published on September 23, 2018 at 4:56 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more