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Ebangwese, Bowllan’s path dates back to elementary school

first_imgAliah Bowllan and Matthew Glover both remember one of Santita Ebangwese’s most embarrassing moments as a volleyball player. During one of Ebangwese’s first appearances on a volleyball court at Pittsford Sutherland (New York) High School in the summer of 2011, Glover, the Knights coach at the time, led a blocking drill. The then-freshman Ebangwese sprinted up to the net but didn’t know what to do. Instead of bouncing side-to-side, waiting to react and block, she leapt over the net as if spiking the ball. With her torso hanging in the net, Ebangwese looked lost. “She was such a basketball player,” Bowllan said. “She came in and tried dunking on the net.”Eight years later, Ebangwese, a senior, and Bowllan, a junior, are still teammates, continuing their friendship that dates back to elementary school. After playing on two state championship teams in high school and committing to the same college, the Pittsford Sutherland alums’ time together at Syracuse (18-8, 14-4 Atlantic Coast), is winding down. Entering Friday’s first round matchup with Yale at Penn State — Syracuse’s first NCAA tournament appearance in program history — Ebangwese and Bowllan could be playing their last game as teammates. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Just being able to work with someone you know,” Bowllan said, “someone with the same goals as you, the same outlook on what the team can be, is awesome.”Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorEbangwese and Bowllan weren’t even supposed to be in the same school district. Ebangwese ended up in Pittsford through the Urban-Suburban program in Rochester, which repositions city school students to out of the district. Both were brought up to high school-level teams while still in middle school. Bowllan’s mother opposed her daughter playing varsity as an eighth grader, but her complaints of “She’s too young, she’s not good enough,” quickly turned into, “You’re right, you’re right,” after the two state championships, Glover said.And despite her inexperience, Ebangwese’s natural athleticism made her desirable for Glover, too. As a seventh grader, Glover wanted to put Ebangwese on JV, but all the mandatory New York state paperwork wasn’t done in time, so he was forced to wait an extra year.“She needed to learn and understand the different components of what took place,” Glover said. “But she had such a passion for life and a passion for volleyball and God-given athleticism.”With the duo leading varsity by the time 2013 came along, the Knights lost only seven sets all season en route to a Class A state championship. Luisa Schirmer, who played at Ohio State and professionally overseas in Belgium, paved the way for Ebangwese and Bowllan to take over once she was done. The next season, they were two of the four captains and repeated as state champs. Glover was there for the two during pivotal points in their volleyball careers. He was there for their back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014 over Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, there for when Ebangwese chose Syracuse over multiple “big offers” from the Midwest and there for when Bowllan followed in her mentor’s footsteps the next year. He coached them for his VolleyFX club program. Despite all this, he, along with SU head coach Leonid Yelin, doesn’t think there was a lot of recruiting by Ebangwese that led Bowllan to Syracuse.“I was like ‘Here’s what I did,’ just make sure it’s the right fit for you,” Ebangwese said. “And then I found out she committed to Syracuse.”Glover found out something himself on Monday afternoon. As he scrolled through Facebook, he noticed Bowllan’s video of the Orange celebrating its first NCAA tournament berth. He said that he missed the selection show Sunday night but planned to reach out to Bowllan and Ebangwese later that evening and offer his congratulations. Not only because they’re his former players, but because they shaped so much of what his program looks like now at Victor High School (New York), Glover’s current school.“Players come and go, players can be molded and coached and different systems can work,” Glover said, “but when you get special players like Santita and Aliah, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 28, 2018 at 7:44 am Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @CraneAndrewlast_img

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