Without two of its top outside hitters, Syracuse needed another attacker.Blockers had intermittently stepped in offensively as head coach Leonid Yelin tinkered with lineups and positions, but one position change made before the season has proved the most fruitful.After spending the first 12 years of her career as an outside hitter, SU setter Gosia Wlaszczuk transferred her attacking instincts to become the leading Atlantic Coast Conference setter in kills. Wlaszczuk keeps opponents off balance with her attacking prowess, making herself into an additional option on the depleted offensive side.As the Orange deals with injuries, it will look to Wlaszczuk to continue to stay aggressive Friday night when SU (8-12, 1-7 Atlantic Coast) travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech (9-12, 2-6) at 8:30 p.m.“When we were converting her to setter we definitely didn’t want to lose what she had as a hitter,” Yelin said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAt the beginning of the season, teams were not aware of her ability to tip and push balls over the net, expecting her to set her teammates. Midway through the conference season, Wlaszczuk’s attacking tendencies are no longer a surprise.While teams watched tape and studied her, she worked on finding the balance between hitting and setting.“I feel like I see the balance,” Wlaszczuk said. “Right now, it’s more about moments where it’s appropriate to let myself (hit) because there’s always a chance I will miss.”Traditionally, a setter has multiple hitters to pass to — on the sides and in the back row.But with outside hitters Nicolette Serratore and Valeriya Shaipova sidelined with injuries, Wlaszczuk has only one true outside hitter to pass to: junior Silvi Uattara.“I think we have a lot of really good hitters so every time when I’m digging the ball, I know our setter will make the right decision,” Uattara said.Wlaszczuk watches more film than any other player on the team, Yelin said, and this allows her to know whether to favor her tendency to hit against specific teams. There is never a “right” situation for the setter to go for the kill, he said. It depends on the opponent’s personnel and the situation in a game.If she sees an opening in the back corner of the court, Wlaszczuk is probably going for it herself.“I’m (a) natural hitter so obviously, all I want to do is score,” she said.When she sees opponents watching her eyes, Wlaszczuk knows she has to cut back. The self-proclaimed trickster will wait a few points, allowing the defense to relax and follow her sets.Then she goes for the kill.“When the pass is good, they don’t know who she’s going to set, when she’s going to set,” Yelin said. “She’s running this team, no question.”Early in the season, Yelin often thought Wlaszczuk was too aggressive, looking away in disgust whenever the setter missed a hit that she didn’t need to take. Now that she’s found the balance, she might be too timid.Last weekend against Louisville, Wlaszczuk went without a kill despite eight opportunities — tallying two attack errors in an Orange loss.At the end of the second set, Wlaszczuk stormed off the court while her teammates huddled, visibly upset after setting the ball for Monika Salkute and watching it drop right back down to the floor.Yelin talked with his setter after the game, reminding her to stay aggressive and not shy away from taking the game into her own hands.Said Yelin: “I said, ‘Gosia, you know your personality, hate to lose … but when the game was on the line, 24-21, you didn’t do even one thing.’” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 23, 2014 at 12:05 am
Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error STARTING PITCHINGThe Dodgers arrived in Arizona knowing who would fill out their five-man starting rotation and nothing has changed. They will open the season with Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu. It is a solid group that reflects the Dodgers’ new-age approach to handling starting pitching – all five spent time on the DL last year … and all five made at least 24 starts. The Dodgers used the 10-day DL as a rest stop for their starting pitchers. The Dodgers starting pitcher had more than the standard four days’ rest in 115 of their 162 regular-season games last season and were also asked to go three times through a lineup less often than most other teams, working 885 innings total last year (17th in the majors). It worked – their collective 3.39 ERA was the lowest in the majors. The difference this year is the lack of experience in the group backing them up. Top prospect Walker Buehler is the “X-factor.” He is expected to join the rotation at some point during the season and could be a dynamic force when he does.RELIEF PITCHINGThe loss of Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson to free agency was supposed to be offset by the signing of “conversion candidate” Tom Koehler (primarily a starting pitcher during his career), the acquisition of Scott Alexander and the return of Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore from injuries. Of that group, only Alexander will be in the bullpen on Opening Day. With a week to go in spring training, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged last week that the bullpen picture is still “a little fuzzy.” President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman doesn’t seem worried. “It’s similar to the last couple years,” Friedman said recently. “Standing here in spring training, we didn’t really know who was going to pitch meaningful innings for us – but we knew we had enough options and interesting guys with compelling upside stories that we’d figure it out.”INFIELDThe three infield All-Stars – back-to-back Rookies of the Year Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger and third baseman Justin Turner – represent the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup. They will have to get by without Turner for at least the first month of the season after he suffered a fractured wrist in the final week of Cactus League action. Logan Forsythe will move to third base, leaving second base to a time-share arrangement among Kike’ Hernandez, Chase Utley and Austin Barnes. It weakens the lineup significantly and the Dodgers cannot afford to lose any of the key trio (we’re looking at you, Seager’s elbow) for big chunks of time during the season.OUTFIELDWhen the Dodgers acquired Matt Kemp as the take-back in a salary-dump trade with the Atlanta Braves in December, no one should have been thinking the Dodgers just acquired their Opening Day cleanup hitter. But that might be the case. The Dodgers were unable to move Kemp’s contract (they tried) and he reported in good shape (physically and, from all appearances, mentally). The injury to Turner now means Kemp will likely move into a prominent spot in the batting order – just like old times – behind Chris Taylor, Seager and Bellinger. The new old Dodger will probably be spelled frequently in left field. The rest of the outfield features last year’s reclamation projects – Taylor (labeled a “4-A” player until his breakthrough season) and Yasiel Puig (the perennial problem child demoted and all but discarded in 2016) – focused on proving last year was not a fluke. CATCHINGThe postseason seemed to signal a change in the Dodgers’ catching hierarchy. Young Austin Barnes started 13 of the 15 games over Yasmani Grandal, who led the majors in passed balls (16) and slumped offensively late in the season. But that seems forgotten in the spring. Grandal has had a strong Cactus League showing while Barnes reported with a sore arm and got off to a slow start. Grandal will again get the majority of the playing time as he tries to prove worthy of a big contract (he is eligible for free agency next winter). Regardless, the Dodgers insist they have an “elite” catching combo based on the combined offense and pitch-framing skills of the Grandal-Barnes duo.BENCHVersatility is prized by the Dodgers’ front office and multi-position players dot the roster. That makes for an unconventional bench. Hernandez is a “super-utility” player who will get frequent starts (primarily against left-handed pitching). A fourth outfielder like Joc Pederson or Andrew Toles or an extra infielder like Utley will also see plenty of platoon action. Kyle Farmer made a strong bid for inclusion this spring.MANAGERThe Dodgers have won 195 games in Roberts’ first two seasons as manager – the most for any manager since Earl Weaver won 217 games in his first two seasons with the Orioles (1969-70). They reached the NLCS the first year and then the World Series last fall (for the first time in 29 years). Roberts’ unflagging energy, upbeat attitude and willingness to embrace (and not be overwhelmed by) the input of the Dodgers’ push-the-envelope analytics department make him an ideal 21st century manager.