For the fourth consecutive year, The New Paltz Women’s Volleyball team appeared in the SUNYAC Tournament Finals.
The Eastern Division’s No. 2 seeded Hawks took home second place after falling to the Eastern Division’s No. 1 seed SUNY Cortland. This is the third consecutive year that the Hawks have met the Red Dragons in the conference final game.
Women’s Head Coach Matt Giufre said he believed the tournament would be a challenge, but nothing that the Lady Hawks couldn’t handle.
“I thought it was going to be a very tough tournament and I thought that we had a good chance of winning it,” Giufre said. “I can’t say it was going to be easy, especially with playing Geneseo first and moving on from there.”
The team started the tournament by defeating conference rival SUNY Geneseo in the quarterfinals on Thursday and beating SUNY Fredonia on Friday. Giufre said Fredonia had been leading the Hawks during the entire match and that the Hawks were able to come from behind in order to advance to the conference finals.
According to Giufre, the Hawks seemed “tentative” at the beginning of the match, but were able to take an early lead during the conference finals but the time-out that the Red Dragons took changed the momentum of the match.
“We were up 10-6 when Cortland called a time-out,” Giufre said. “We were up 20-17 late in the game and then for whatever reason we stopped doing what we were doing to be successful up until that point. Cortland seized that opportunity and really started rolling on us.”
Giufre said that the Hawks let too many balls go past them, something that had been uncharacteristic for them as of late. After the match, Giufre said the team was displeased with their result.
“When you realize that the season’s over and three very special people’s careers are over,” Giufre said. “I don’t think we really put our best foot forward consistently on Saturday and that was disappointing.”
Although taking home a second-place finish, fourth-year captains Melinda DiGiovanna, Tara Annunziata and Kelsey Garmendia were unhappy with their senior year finish.
“With this ending, I’m not satisfied,” Annunziata said. “I wanted to go out with a SUNYAC championship.”
DiGiovanna said the goal going into the tournament was to finish games completely and be able to move on to the next day of play. Garmendia said the three captains knew that each game could be their last game, which motivated them to play harder than they normally would.
“Every day could have been our last game as a New Paltz volleyball player, so we wanted to go as far as we could,” Garmendia said.
The Hawks were able to place DiGiovanna and second-year libero Carrie Hack to the All-Tournament Team after Saturday’s match. DiGiovanna was named to the SUNYAC First Team, while Hack, second-year setter Marissa King and third-year middle hitter Dana Vosilla were named to the second team. First-year libero Katy Herbst was named SUNYAC rookie of the year.
Although their careers at New Paltz have finished, the three captains already know what the team needs to do to be successful.
“They need to come out fighting,” DiGiovanna said. “They need to know that they can go farther than where we’ve gone.”
Garmendia also said an identity needs to be formed for the Hawks’ future success.
“I think that they need to be a team that when they go to a tournament, they can walk into a gym and not be cocky, but know that they’re the team to beat,” Garmendia said. “Everyone wants to beat them, but they have to want to beat everyone else.”