The New Paltz women’s volleyball team concluded their regular season by taking two out of three in the Skidmore Tournament in Saratoga Springs, New York on Oct. 27 and 28 before opening up the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament with a win at home against rival Oneonta.
The team defeated the Sage Colleges 3-0 (25-14, 25-12, 25-22) and Union College 3-2 (25-17, 20-25, 25-20, 20-25, 15-10), but dropped the finale to host Skidmore 3-1 (23-25, 25-15, 20-25, 23-25). Against Oneonta, the Hawks won 3-1.
Prior to Tuesday night’s bout with Oneonta, Hawks head coach Matt Giufre said he expected it to be a different game than when the women defeated them on Oct. 20 by a score of 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 28-26).
“This is now the playoffs and against these teams, you can’t slip up,” he said. “However, if we can continue to have so many hitters scoring points, we are going to have a strong outcome.”
In the Halloween performance, the women started off strong, capturing a win in the first set, 25-14.
The Hawks held the lead the entire set and even saw fourth-year setter Maddie Zwickl make program history. Up 15-11 at the time, she back set first-year right side hitter Emma Hines for the kill, giving her 4,640 career assists, surpassing Marissa King (‘13).
“Every year she has gotten better,” Giufre said of Zwickl. “As records get broken, the program only gets stronger. We recognize her play over the last four years and hope to see a lot more of them going forward.”
The Hawks then took a commanding 2-0 lead after recording a win in the second set 25-16.
New Paltz went up over Oneonta early 7-3, but the Red Dragons came back to tie it at seven all. The latter then took the lead 11-10 later in the match, but the Hawks tightened up to regain the lead, 24-16. Zwickl secured the set win with a service ace.
The Hawks were aiming for a straight-set win, but Oneonta wouldn’t go down without a fight. They took the third set by a slim victory of 28-26, after being up 24-22.
However, New Paltz secured the win against Oneonta with a 25-13 victory. Third-year libero Meredith Dignan opened up the scoring with a 3-0 serving run, followed by fourth-year libero Veronica Matedero hit seven straight serves.
The Hawks then took a commanding 13-2 lead over the Red Dragons. While the latter did get within seven points at 18-11 at one point, the former was able to hold them off, as a double block from third-year Taylor Cimillo and second-year middle hitter Kerri Neville clinched the win.
Giufre said the communication and energy level throughout the game was top notch from start to finish.
“Even in the third set when we fumbled we still had a strong mindset,” he said. “We were out of position once but maintained composure to not panic. We reset for the fourth set and viewed it as a new game.”
The Hawks bested the Red Dragons in kills (45-38), service aces (9-2), assists (45-38) and defended more digs (50-44).
Cimillo led the charge in the kills department with 14, while registering three blocks and defending 10 digs.
Second-year outside hitter Maddie Van Pelt was right behind with 11 kills, while Kerri Neville had six more.
Maddie Zwickl finished her historic night with 36 assists, while Matedero also defended 12 digs.
Next up for the Hawks in the tournament is the College at Brockport.
“We played Brockport awhile ago, they are well-balanced offensively so we need to slow them down a bit,” Giufre said. “We need to serve tough and swing hard. If we lose, it’s not going to be a blow out, we are going to get beat. We are going to be aggressive and make life as tough as possible for them.”
The game will go down Friday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at Brockport.