Disappointed but Optimistic, Men’s Volleyball Looks Forward to the 2021 Season

To remind the league why the SUNY New Paltz men's volleyball team are national champions, players and coaches share their thoughts on their expectations and state of mind moving into the 2021 season.

As the continuous scheduling setbacks occur within the sports community at New Paltz, the men’s volleyball team looks at the cancelation of their 2019-2020 season in a lighter tone as they set their eyes back toward winning another national championship. 

The team came off of winning a national championship title in 2019 with an impressive record of 28-7 and finishing their season on a 10-game winning streak.

When the Hawk’s season got canceled when they were firing on all cylinders, they had a record of 16-3 with a six-game winning streak. Poised for another chance at victory and repeating as champions of Division III volleyball, the team has to keep their heads up and maintain discipline between each other, according to Head Coach Radu Petrus.

Since training and practice for all New Paltz athletes is in a unique position, players are entrusted with the ability to monitor their own workouts. For Petrus, he wants his players to prioritize their safety and school work first, and then maintain that championship level mentality when working to get better each and every day in whatever workout they do. 

The players on the team will do their individual workouts by signing up through the IMleagues website. Dan Larosa looks to make his mark this upcoming season, as the third-year says getting better as a volleyball player is key.

“Right after we got sent home, I just got into the grind, while staying safe, I made my own workout, pushed myself, and once we got here I followed the guidelines that the coach told us,” Larosa said.

As Larosa looks to bring a lot of energy on and off the court, he wants only to push himself and his teammates to their best as student athletes. Being a student athlete in this type of environment is unique enough, but Larosa isn’t fazed by this obstacle. He knows although the whole team isn’t always with him in training, he is confident all of them are handling this well and are making due with the situation presented to them. 

Patrick Wing, a second-year returner for the Hawks, looks to bring his presence, work ethic to the season, while doing whatever he can to help get his team the win. 

“This year helped me open my eyes, and we can work through challenges together, get better as players individually, and just compete when we can,” said Wing. 

Once the 2020 season for the Hawks volleyball team was officially canceled, Larosa and Wing were disappointed as they both wanted to keep their momentum going, especially with seven seniors graduating from the team. 

Expectations for Petrus is for his players to simply compete hard in practices, support each other in the gym, and build a solid foundation of team chemistry. For players like Larosa and Wing, they both want to do what any competitive athlete in a sport does, and that is simply win.

”Our standards are to win the UVC conference, then make it back to the national tournament and become national champions again,” Larosa said. “We need to implement what we do in practice and put it into each game.”

Coach Petrus advocates that same standard for his team, as he wants them to achieve the goal of making it to the Final Four in Rochester and to potentially win another national championship. 

As the Hawks faced a unique challenge in their 2020 season, they must now only look forward to the 2021 season and remind the rest of the league why they are national champions.