By James O’Neill
GENESEO – Breaking it’s seven-game winning streak, the State University of New York at New Paltz women’s volleyball team earned the second seed in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) tournament Saturday after splitting its two games against SUNY Geneseo and Plattsburgh State.
The Hawks beat the Cardinals (6-20 overall, 1-7 SUNYAC) 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-13), while losing to the Knights (19-7, 8-0), 3-0 (14-25, 14-25, 23-25) in day two of SUNYAC pool play.
“We knew it was important to finish the weekend with a win and move forward,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Matt Giufre. “All year, our team has been able to separate a win or loss from what’s next, and today was no different.”
The Hawks came out determined in the first set against SUNY Geneseo, taking a 7-3 lead off a junior outside hitter Madison Van Pelt kill. The Knights answered quick, going on a 7-1 run to take the lead at 10-8, and force a SUNY New Paltz timeout.
At 13-12, SUNY Geneseo went on a four-unanswered point run to push its lead, 17-12 and forcing Giufre to use his last timeout. The stoppage was no help, as the Knights went on an 8-2 run to take the set, 25-14.
SUNY Geneseo continued its dominance into the second, taking an early 8-4 lead. The Knights scored early and often throughout the set, never allowing the Hawks to have a chance to comee back. Up 24-11, a three-unanswered point run by SUNY New Paltz was not enough, as SUNY Geneseo won again, 25-14.
Not ready to give up the number one spot at the top of the conference standings, the Hawks held the lead for most of the third set. The Knights never fell behind more than three points, however, and fought back-and-forth with SUNY New Paltz until the end.
Giving up the lead at 18-19, a Hawks timeout allowed them to stay within reach. When SUNY New Paltz fell down again at 22-23, Giufre talked things over one last time in hopes of grabbing the hard-fought set.
A kill by sophomore middle hitter Demi Herasme shifted momentum back on to the Hawks side to tie the set at 23 out of the timeout. The Knights came back with two kills of their own, taking the set 25-23, and the match, 3-0.
Van Pelt led SUNY New Paltz with 11 kills, while senior setter Meredith Dignan racked up 19 assists and junior libero Nicole Fellone had 16 digs.
The Hawks did not let the loss bother them in the second match against Plattsburgh State, jumping out to take a 7-1 lead in the first set. Up 12-8, a five-unanswered point run sparked by a Herasme kill put the set in SUNY New Paltz’s hands, 17-8. The Hawks would win, 25-14.
Tying the set three times and never falling behind more than three, the Cardinals fought hard to stay in contention with SUNY New Paltz. Plattsburgh State took its first lead off a three-unanswered point run at 18-17, but the Hawks answered with four points of their own. Three Herasme kills and one by sophomore outside hitter Julie Greenspan allowed SUNY New Paltz to take back the lead, 21-18.
The Cardinals could never get within a point to stay close again, as the Hawks won the set, 25-22, to take a 2-0 lead.
With the third set tied at 10, another Herasme kill sparked a five-point run for SUNY New Paltz, grabbing momentum back on its side. The Hawks ended the set with a 10-3 run, winning 25-13, and taking the match, 3-0.
SUNY New Paltz returns to the Hawk Center Wednesday to take on Vassar College.
“We have four non-conference matches this week to polish every part of our game,” Giufre said. “Geneseo outplayed us and outworked us from the first to the final serve. If we can’t fix that, it’s going to be really tough to win going forward.”