They’re a team that, when compared to others, is one Matt Giufre took a quick liking to.
“They’re definitely one of the more fun teams I’ve coached in recent years,” Giufre, the head coach of SUNY New Paltz’s Women’s Volleyball team, said. “The personalities on the team click extremely well.”
With an 8-1 record and a seven-game winning streak, the Women’s Volleyball team has begun to distinguish themselves as a force to be reckoned with during the fall 2012 season. As a team already holding five 3-0 victories, expectations are high for a team that said goodbye to a talented senior class in 2011.
The conclusion of the fall 2011 season saw the team make it to the conference finals, only to fall to rival SUNY Cortland for a second consecutive year. Despite the heartbreak, the Lady Hawks channeled all of that into preparing for this upcoming season.
“We recommitted ourselves to the weight room and becoming an elite team,” Giufre said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming into this season. When you’re split up over the summer, you wonder if the momentum gets lost during those months. It was clear though once they came back that they were going to follow through on what they’ve been working for.”
The current roster is smaller than in previous years, which is both a strength and weakness for fourth-year player Dana Vosilla.
“There’s only 12 of us, so we really strive for that unity which can take a team to the next level,” Vosilla said. “It’s one team, one heartbeat.”
While the lower numbers bring the team closer, Vosilla said it makes practices more difficult. She said it’s tough to find a time when the whole team is available and can work together.
However, the personalities coming together so well has helped to diffuse the problem.
“Our team is already so close,” Vosilla said. “We have the talent to do well and we have a mental toughness that’s the strongest I’ve played with while being here.”
Fourth-year Michelle Jacobson said a significant strength the team has this year is the first-year players who have come in. She said the new players have been able to come in and make a place for themselves on the team.
“They’ve really stepped up for us and proven they can compete and make an impact,” Jacobson said. “They’re going to really help us when it gets later in the season and everyone starts to get a little bit tired.”
Giufre also said the rookie players will come in and help the Lady Hawks, pointing out Becca Borquist as a player to look out for.
“She’s been great for us already, and our freshmen have bought into the ‘team first’ mentality,” Giufre said. “Their personalities blend extremely well with the veterans. They’re all in it to the end.”
The team will continue play against Johnson and Wales University on Sept. 14, but is focusing on strengthening their cohesiveness as a team even stronger, which will help to carry them far.
“They’re more close-knit and selfless than some of the other teams I’ve coached,” Giufre said. “They challenge one another to bring out the best of themselves.”