first_imgLindsay McCabe left a gaping hole at the middle blocker position when she graduated last season. It wasn’t an ideal situation for Syracuse, but for freshman middle blocker Santita Ebangwese, it presented an opportunity.Ebangwese embraced it last week at the UConn Invitational, playing in all 10 sets and recording 12 blocks and 12 kills during an undefeated weekend for the Orange.“I think she did (a) pretty good job,”head coach Leonid Yelin said. “It’s (a) long way to go, but just at this point of time, she did (a) good job.”The freshman was a force for Syracuse (3-0) in its opening weekend. While she is still adjusting to a new level of play, Ebangwese played comfortably in her first collegiate matches and is looking to continue her success against Auburn (4-0) and Georgia (3-0) this weekend.Sophomore middle blocker Leah Levert has been impressed by the freshman’s play thus far. She was impressed with Ebangwese’s strength, and also sees confidence from her new teammate.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think she just went out there (last weekend) and she just did her thing,” Levert said. “She didn’t second guess anything, she just went with her gut, and if she keeps doing that along with working on skills, she’ll just get better and better.”Even with a strong showing in her debut, Ebangwese wasn’t completely comfortable about starting her college volleyball career.The differences between her previous volleyball experiences and the college level are noticeable to her, beginning with a longer pregame warm-up.“Stepping on the court, I was a little hesitant because I’m like the baby, and I don’t want to mess up,” Ebangwese said. “But (the team is) always really encouraging. If I made a mistake they’re like, ‘You got it. Shake it off.’”Assistant coach Erin Little, who played as an outside hitter for the Orange from 2008-11, also recognizes the differences between the high school and college levels of play. She says the physicality is more impressive and the pace of play is increased.Despite these challenges, Little says Ebangwese is adjusting well.“She’s really developing as a blocker, kind of learning how to read the pace of the game,” Little said. “… Yes she’ll read it wrong sometimes, but then the more she reads it wrong the more she’ll understand the decision to make as a blocker later.”Ebangwese noted that adjusting to these differences may have made some aspects of her game more difficult so far, but she was happy with her blocking and hitting regardless.Despite her early season success, she knows where she needs to still improve.“I’ll be focusing on my block, trying to close it and press over more so I can be more effective,” Ebangwese said.Ebangwese, her teammates and coaches all agree that there is room for improvement in the young blocker’s game.But with that in mind, Levert is excited to soon reap the benefits of her teammate’s developed play.“I think she has a lot of potential,” Levert said. “I think so far she’s living up to it, and just as the season goes on, she’s going to get better and better.” Comments Published on September 2, 2015 at 8:43 pm Contact Kevin: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img