By Payton Malloy Ellison
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The State University of New York at New Paltz’s women’s volleyball team concluded its regular season on Saturday, defeating Union College in its first match but falling to hosting Skidmore in the final day of the Skidmore Classic.
SUNY New Paltz (13-13 overall, 6-3 SUNYAC) completed its three-game weekend at the Thoroughbred hosted tournament with a 2-1 slate, securing its 20th straight season with a .500 record. It was a rare non-conference regular season rematch against the Dutchmen (5-18); the Hawks previously lost to Union 3-2 in the opener of the Johnson and Wales tournament Sept. 3, but came back with a 3-0 sweep Saturday. They could not repeat the same results against the hosting Skidmore (13-15), losing the final regular season match of the year, 3-1.
“I’m very happy with how our team competed this weekend,” said SUNY New Paltz coach Matt Giufre.
The Hawks and Dutchmen started the match with a hard fought set, as Union had a 16-12 advantage, before the Hawks came back with five straight points. They went on a run of their own, scoring six straight after the 18-18 tie to make the score 24-18. A kill and two attack errors allowed the Dutchmen to add three points to their total, but the Hawks would win the set on a kill from junior middle hitter Nicole Kleinegger. SUNY New Paltz dominated the second set, 25-10, with 13 kills, four aces, and a .414 hitting percentage, while taking advantage of six errors by Union.
After the Hawks started the third set with a 21-12 advantage, the Dutchmen put up a bit of a fight, taking advantage of SUNY New Paltz errors to win five of the next seven points before the Hawks put the match away with two straight kills kills by junior Makenzie Bills and sophomore Samantha Cox.
Sophomore Mackenzie Williams converted 15 points and 14 kills on a career best .458 hitting percentage, and also contributed five digs. Sophomore Cate DiGiacomo continued her role as the lead setter for the Hawks with 21 assists, and contributed on defense with 12 digs. Senior Nicole Cooke tied with DiGiacomo for the team lead in digs, while junior Mia Waddell had eight.
As a team, the Hawks outclassed the Dutchmen in every aspect. They had 38 kills compared to just 20 for the Dutchmen, nine aces to Union’s five, and a .223 hitting percentage to the Dutchmen’s -.010.
“I thought our offense was as good as it’s been, which is a great sign going into the postseason,” Giufre said.
The Hawks continued its great attack throughout the back-and-forth affair against Skidmore. After falling behind 6-3 to start the first set, they went on a 10-4 run, all but three points coming from kills and aces, that brought the score 13-10. The Thoroughbreds didn’t relent, as they went on a mini run of their own to take the lead and never gave it back. The Hawks brought the match to within two, but a kill by Zoe Beals and an attack error forced by a block secured the 25-21 first set victory for the hosts.
SUNY New Paltz nearly had a similar, if not better, second set result as it did against the Dutchmen, starting red hot on offense as a kill by Bills made the score 22-11. The Hawks held set point at 24-12 before three errors and a kill led to a Thoroughbreds 4-0 run, but SUNY New Paltz secored the set on another attack error, the ninth for the hosts in the second period alone, to win the set 25-16. It was the first set point that Skidmore had lost all weekend.
The last two sets were hard fought affairs. The third had 15 game-tying points, the Hawks scoring on kills and aces while the Thoroughbreds primarily scored on SUNY New Paltz errors. It was a back-and-forth set all the way until the 23-23 tie when the Hawks mis-served, then couldn’t force the 24-24 tie, as they failed to get the ball over the net, as Skidmore took a 25-23 victory.
In the fourth set, the two teams battled in a similar way, and the hosts took a 24-22 lead. A kill by junior Victoria Konicki gave the Hawks another chance to force a 24-24 score. The next play was inconclusive, after officials couldn’t tell if the Skidmore spike landed in-bounds or not. A yellow card was accessed to Giufre, the play didn’t count, and SUNY New Paltz couldn’t take advantage of the second chance, as Ella Harris’ spike wasn’t handled by the Hawks, securing a 25-23, match-clinching fourth set to win the match 3-1.