After winning the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship last year, the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz women’s volleyball are back in working mode.
“Our team came back to campus excited to build off of last year’s success,” said Head Coach Matt Guifre. “But [they also were] more focused on how to make this year’s group the best possible team.”
New Paltz fought hard against City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College, defeating them 3-1.
The first set went quick, with the Lady Hawks tallying up 15 kills against Hunter’s eight. The score remained consistent until New Paltz was up 4-3, but second-year outside hitter Courtney Gebhardt and third-year middle hitter Demi Herasme both tallied two kills, giving New Paltz an 8-3 lead. Hunter maintained the scoring gap for the rest of the set, handing the Lady Hawks a 25-14 win for set one.
“Our offense was very good against Hunter,” Guifre said. “It’s the best offensive output we’ve had this year.”
Ignoring defeat, Hunter fought back in the second set. First, the set remained a consistent volley between the two teams, but with New Paltz coming out on top every time. When the scoreboard showed 12-4, Hunter seemed to have already lost, but woke up to gain back their lost kills. After two time-outs from both sides, Hunter caught up but with no attainment, leaving the set score 25-22 for the New Paltz Hawks.
After an intense first volley in the third set, Hunter began to dominate. The set consisted of six service errors and seven attack errors on New Paltz, handing Hunter 13 unearned points for the entire set. With the score at 17-14, New Paltz called a time-out. During the final stages of the set, New Paltz battled back to a 20-20 tie after a kill from Gebhardt. Hunter maintained their defense, beating New Paltz 30-28 in the final set.
“We had too many service errors in the one set that we dropped, which is a big momentum killer and slowed down our game a little,” said fourth-year middle blocker Kerri Neville. “But we were able to pick it up and finish off the game tough.”
In the fourth set, Hunter scored first, but New Paltz tallied six unanswered points right after, starting the set score at 6-1. After a time-out from Hunter, they answered with three points, bringing the score to 6-4. Although Hunter maintained a small score-gap behind New Paltz, the Lady Hawks soared with another six unanswered points, making the set score 15-10.
New Paltz remained consistent throughout this final set, because if they had lost they would’ve gone into a sudden death fifth set to break the tie between the two teams. A block from Neville and third-year outside hitter Julie Greenspan sealed the fourth set win for New Paltz, 25-19.
Leading in kills for SUNY New Paltz was Gebardt (19), fourth-year outside hitter Maddie Van Pelt (13) and Herasme (8). Second-year libero Nicole Cooke, third-year setter Haley Timarky and fourth-year libero Nicole Fellone all tallied two aces on the game.
For blocks, the leaderboard went Herasme (2), Gebhardt (2) and Neville (2). Timarky earned a whopping 45 assists throughout the game, with Cooke (2) and Fellone (2) following behind. In digs, Fellone (15), first-year libero Mia Waddell (9) and third-year libero Olivia D’Antonio (8).
“Maddie and Courtney had a high number of kills,” Guifre said. “I really thought Haley did a great job using our offensive strengths and creating mismatches for our benefit throughout the match.”
Hunter had finished out their 2018 season with a 24-9 overall record, shutting out conference teams with a record of 8-0. The Hunter College Hawks “have not lost a regular-season conference match since Oct. 12, 2015–a 26-match unbeaten streak against CUNYAC opposition,” according to their website.
“Hunter is a perennial powerhouse in and outside the CUNYAC,” Guifre said. “We went down there focused and excited for the challenge, and I am very pleased with how we played.”