With an outstanding upset against the No. 4 seeded Fredonia in the SUNYAC quarterfinals on Nov. 2, the New Paltz Women’s Volleyball team made it all the way to the semifinals on Nov. 5 against top-seeded and defending champs Cortland on their home turf.
Though the match brought their season to an end, our Lady Hawks put up a tough fight and played some of the most competitive volleyball we’ve seen from them all season.
“We had good energy coming out of that Fredonia game, and we thought we could use that against Cortland,” second-year outside hitter Samatha Cox said. “It just didn’t go our way and there were some controllable errors that we made that could’ve been adjusted or fixed.”
The Hawks had lost 3-0 to both Fredonia and Cortland in the regular season and were determined to prove their talent in the rematches. With fierce determination and excellent plays made by both the offense and defense, the Hawks were able to end Fredonia’s season in the quarterfinals with three consecutive 25 point sets, shutting them out 3-0.
With many of the New Paltz players being new to collegiate playoffs, their nerves were prevalent in the semifinal match, but nonetheless the Hawks opened up the first set with a 3-0 advantage. The score was neck-and-neck throughout the entirety of the set, with the Hawks holding their own against a bunch of difficult serves made by Cortland’s star server, Olivia Doorley. The Red Dragons were able to tie the score 6-6 in the middle of the set, but third-year middle hitter Victoria Konicki made a dirty kill to put the Hawks in a 9-6 lead.
Coupled by tough Cortland serves and some defensive errors made by New Paltz, the Red Dragons had three straight kills to end the set in a 25-16 win, knocking the Hawks off their game. The game was far from over at that point, but the Hawks needed to work together as a unit in order to slow the Red Dragons’ momentum.
The second set looked a lot like the first, with both teams fighting relentlessly for the upper hand. First-year middle hitter Lauren Abbott and second-year outside hitter Mackenzie Williams broke the initial deadlock with back-to-back kills, putting the Hawks ahead two points. Second-year right side Makenzie Bills, a star New Paltz blocker and essential defensive asset, kept the Red Dragons at bay for most of the set, but Cortland was able to break through with five consecutive points, ending the set with another 25-16 lead for the defending champs.
“In the third set, which was our best, we started to play more like a team, we just had a lot of defensive errors overall in the game and weren’t hitting how we normally hit,” Cox said. The Red Dragons stole the beginning of the third set with a 11-3 lead, but the Hawks kept their head in the game and were able to get within a single-kill difference with only a few minutes left in the game. Cortland went on another kill-streak, however, and closed out the final set with a 25-18 win.
Our courageous Lady Hawks did not let this loss get them down. They are already looking forward to and preparing for next season. “We’re looking to continue the growth that we had even just in this one season. By the end, we were really seamless and high energy with a lot of potential, so we’re hoping to unlock the rest of that potential and grow even more into next season,” Cox said.