The Men’s Volleyball team traveled to Elmira College last weekend to participate in the final United Volleyball Conference (UVC) crossover of the season.
In their first match, the Hawks swept Penn St.-Behrend in three games (25-20, 25-12, 25-14). New Paltz outhit the Nittany Lions, .410-to-.106. New Paltz also held a 9-3 edge in service aces. After trailing 4-3 in the first set, the Hawks scored four straight points and took the lead 7-4 on a kill by third-year setter Johnny Lutjen. From there, the Hawks were ahead for the remainder of the match.
However, the Hawks did not fair as well in their second of three matches of the weekend, losing 3-2 to Medaille College (25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-19, 12-15).
In their final match, the Hawks swept away the competition again, defeating Hilbert College (25-11, 25-13, 28-26).
Head Coach Radu Petrus said the size of the court at Elmira had an effect on the team’s play. He said the court was shorter than what they are accustomed to and the bench was closer to the court than usual. All of these issues affected serving performance.
“We couldn’t put our technical and tactical things on the court [at Elmira],” Petrus said. “It just wasn’t a comfortable environment. It was not good. All of this contributed to our loss. Not to blame it completely on the loss, because that was our own doing. We have a good approach, we play hard. We couldn’t do this at Elmira. There were a lot of close five-set matches and tight scores.”
Petrus said a “full-gym atmosphere” is a key to his team’s success.
“We needed more space, like an entire gym to initiate our strategy,” Petrus said.
Fourth-year middle blocker Dylan Rabidoux said the team was very confident going into the Elmira Crossover.
“We were trying to focus on playing our game and not letting other teams dictate how we played,” he said.
The Hawks spent three straight weeks at the top of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) NCAA Div. III Men’s Top-15 Coaches Poll. They are currently ranked No. 3 in the poll.
“As for our high ranking, we need to remember that there is a large target on our back because of it,” Rabidoux said. “Every team we play will be giving us their best game because they want to say they beat the No. 1 team. That’s just all the more reason that we need to focus on playing our game and dictate the style of play and the pace at which the match is played.”
Next on the team’s agenda is taking on NYU, who has a record of 12-6 overall and 5-5 record in UVC play. This will be the Hawks’ final UVC matchup of the regular season.
Lutjen said as a result of losing one game at the Crossover last weekend, the team will be determined to make up for it.
“We will come out focused and determined because of our UVC loss in the second game of the Crossover last weekend,” Lutjen said. “In my eyes, it is a must win game so we secure a top ranked spot in the UVC for playoffs.”
Petrus hopes the fact that the team will be playing at home will contribute towards home-court advantage.
“If we use our own technical and tactical situations, we can beat NYU,” Petrus said. “We will be going back to our full-gym environment [on Thursday]. I expect a lot of students to attend the game at the Hawk Center to support us and cheer us on.”
The Hawks next take on NYU in their final UVC matchup of the regular season on Thursday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Hawk Center.