In a division teeming with fresh talent, SUNY New Paltz Women’s Volleyball is the home of the SUNYAC Eastern Division’s top rookie.
After the SUNYAC Conference Finals, first-year libero Katy Herbst was named Rookie of the Year by the conference office. Herbst, who began playing in middle school, has grown up with sports her entire life.
“My dad played volleyball which led me to play in seventh grade,” Herbst said. “I played soccer as well, but volleyball switched from being a winter season sport to a fall season sport and I had to make a choice.”
Herbst continued playing volleyball to avoid following in the footsteps of her older sisters, who both played soccer. Her decision to continue volleyball led Women’s Head Coach Matt Giufre to take interest in her.
“Katy’s high school coach is one of my best friends so I knew of her through him,” Giufre said. “I knew she was good and since she was trained by one of the best high school coaches in N.Y., I also knew she could assimilate here pretty quickly.”
Prior to New Paltz, Herbst played for her school team at Webster Schroeder High School and club team Paradigm Volleyball last season. According to her, the team last season almost stopped her from playing altogether.
“Last spring, just before coming here, my team (Paradigm) made me not like it as much,” Herbst said. “I didn’t want to go to weekend tournaments and didn’t have the drive to want to win. They were lazy and I wanted to play at that next level.”
Though frustrated, Herbst persevered and continued to play. After looking at schools closer to home and at SUNYAC rival SUNY Cortland, Herbst decided to continue her career in volleyball at New Paltz.
She made the choice to come to New Paltz in the winter of 2011 and said she knew after spending an overnight with the team that New Paltz was the right fit for her.
“I met coach and the girls and I loved them immediately,” Herbst said. “It just felt more like a family than an actual team. It just felt like this is where I wanted to spend the next four years.”
When Herbst first came in, Giufre said he expected her to contribute in practice and work ethic that he wants from all of his players. Giufre then said Herbst impressed him throughout the season.
“Katy was a role player at first, but after the first few weeks we moved her into a starting defensive specialist position and she really did well,” Giufre said. “She takes a lot of pride in how she’s playing and how our team is playing, which motivates her to improve.”
Herbst said she was unaware of having a shot at the award and focused mostly on contributing to the team’s goal of SUNYAC glory.
“I knew it existed but I didn’t think about it,” Herbst said. “It’s more about focusing on each individual game. It’s about focusing on helping to get that one point so we can win our games. You don’t think long-term until you get to SUNYACs.”
Given the honor, Herbst is going forward and primarily focusing on helping the team for next season.
“It is a big honor, but winning the award isn’t the main goal,” Herbst said. “The main goal is to try and make it to the SUNYAC finals again and finally get to that national tournament.”