Ending Revisited

A week after falling in the SUNYAC Tournament semifinals, the SUNY New Paltz Women’s Volleyball Team defeated SUNYAC Champion SUNY Cortland.

After a heartbreaking defeat to Buffalo State in the semifinal round of the annual SUNYAC Tournament, the Lady Hawks believed their fall 2012 campaign was over. However, with a 32-8 season record, the Lady Hawks qualified for the NCAA Div. III Tournament, marking the third time the team has qualified for NCAAs.

The team has made an appearance in the championship match of the SUNYAC Tournament the past four years straight. This year, especially after defeating conference rival SUNY Cortland, the team was expected to go deep into tournament play.

It was pressure like this that stopped the team in the semifinal round, fourth-year middle-hitter Dana Vosilla said.

“We played one of the worst games of our season against Buffalo State,” Vosilla said. “There was a lot of pressure on us to do well, and we just sort of crumbled under it.”

After the SUNYAC Tournament ended for the Lady Hawks, Head Coach Matt Giufre said he and the team was unsure of whether they would get a second chance and qualify for tournament play. It wasn’t until the Monday after the SUNYAC Tournament ended that he found out the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Giufre said once he and the team found out they were in, they knew they had a chance to rewrite how their season ended.

“We wanted to end our season playing good volleyball, and we didn’t do that in the SUNYACs,” Giufre said. “We played terrible volleyball against Buffalo State and it was awful to think that that was going to be how our season ended. When we heard we qualified for the NCAAs, we knew we had a chance to change that and rewrite the end of our season.”

The NCAAs began on Nov. 10, with the team’s first opponent being Skidmore College. Earlier in the season, New Paltz took down Skidmore with a match score of 3-0. Much like their earlier meeting during the regular season, they took their upstate rivals out with little trouble, finishing off the Thoroughbreds with a final match score of 3-1.

With Skidmore out of the way, the team looked toward No. 17 Cortland, who has been their most competitive rival in the SUNYAC for the past four years.

For Vosilla, the match against Cortland presented a chance for the Hawks to prove themselves after a disappointing performance a week earlier.

“This was a second chance for us,” Vosilla said. “Going into this tournament, we had nothing to lose and we were the underdogs. That was a huge advantage for us and we knew that we could go in and beat a team that was ranked higher than us.”

The Hawks went into the match against Cortland with a 1-1 record against them during the regular season. In their defeat at the hands of Cortland on Sept. 21, the team lost to the Red Dragons with a match score of 0-3.

This time, it was the other way around.

Giufre said the team’s 3-0 defeat of SUNY Cortland was one of the best performances he has seen the team play all season, and that their poise during the match made them a much better team than their conference rival.

“It was incredible how poised they were during the tournament and against Cortland,” Giufre said. “They knew what they were capable of and they didn’t let themselves get caught up in what happened at SUNYACs. They played terrific volleyball.”

While the Hawks made it to the final round of the regional part of the NCAA Tournament, the team fell to Clarkson University with a final score of 3-2.

Despite the loss and the team’s heartbreak of being two points away from making it to the national portion of the NCAA Tournament, Giufre said the team’s performance can leave them feeling good about the season.

“We still lost a match, and this is a team that wants to do well and was upset that they didn’t get to where they wanted to be,” Giufre said. “However, we played our best volleyball of the season this tournament, and the team is more at ease with this result.”