By Monica D’Ippolito
NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz extended its winning streak to seven matches Saturday as the Hawks collected a pair of 3-1 victories over visiting Suffolk University and Manhattanville College to close out day two of the New Paltz Challenge Tournament.
The Hawks worked their way back to win set one against the Rams to start the day. The hosts trailed 22-17 in the opening stanza but rallied on a 4-0 run with Suffolk helping the cause as it suffered four attacking errors in the stretch, which included a double block by Cate DiGiacomo and Nicole Kleinegger. Harmony Johnson broke up the stretch with a kill, but SUNY New Paltz tied the match at 23 on kills by Katie Steele and Makenzie Bills, both assisted by DiGiacomo. Johnson gave Suffolk set point, but once again the Hawks answered, this time with three-straight points on blocks by Makenzie Bills, Nicole Kleinegger and a kill by Mackenzie Williams to help steal the 1-0 lead.
After dropping the second set, 25-23, the Hawks once again worked back late in the third to take a 2-1 lead after the score was tied at 16. An attacking error, kill by Steele and an ace by Williams turned the set toward SUNY New Paltz as it held a 19-16 advantage. The Rams trimmed the deficit to 21-20, but the Hawks ended the set with four-straight points on kills by Letisha Perez, Makenzie Bills and an ace from Melanie Podstupka to aid in the 25-20 win.
SUNY New Paltz held a comfortable, 19-12 lead with Suffolk closing the gap as tight as 22-20, but the Hawks finished the win on three-straight points on kills by Steele, Perez and a block by Perez and Bills to earn the win.
Williams led the way with 12 kills, hitting .308 with three aces, two blocks and 12 digs. Perez followed with 11 kills, hitting .421 with two blocks. Podstupka finished with a team-high 15 digs.
The Hawks ended the day against the Violets. After dropping the first set, 25-19, they started finding their rhythm in the second and rattled off three-straight set victories winning, 25-21, 25-17, 25-16.
Williams led SUNY New Paltz with a game-high 15 kills, hitting .316 in the win with 15 digs. Victoria Konicki followed with 14 kills, hitting .286 and adding four blocks — one solo — and two digs. Steele also finished in double-figure kills, recording 11 and hitting .219.
DiGiacomo had a game-high 38 assists, along with four blocks, four digs, an ace and six kills — the last of which was the game winner at match point on a dump over the net.
The Hawks were also solid defensively, recording the most digs in a four-set match all season with 81. Four different players recorded double-digit digs for SUNY New Paltz, led by Haylee Scarincio who finished with a career-high 22 to go along with her career-high three aces.
The two wins Saturday improved the Hawks to 15-2 overall as they hit a four-game home stand against SUNYAC competition starting with Fredonia State Oct. 14.