Building off of the confidence they gained from the Hawk Invitational, the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz Women’s Volleyball team is hoping to continue their successful season and finish deep in the NCAA tournament.
The Hawks have started their 2010 campaign with a 14-4 record and are currently in the midst of a nine game winning streak.
“The work ethic of our players and the leadership of the upperclassmen are the definite keys to our success,” said Head Coach Matt Giufre. “Also, our defensive intensity and offensive balance allow us to be difficult to scout and give us many options to attack opponents with.”
Co-Captain Dana Kindelmann agreed with Giufre, and thinks this year the team has been clicking.
“We have high expectations for our team and this year is no different. We are taking it one game at a time like we have done in the past,” Kindelmann said.
Tara Annunziata, the team’s other co-captain, attributes the team’s success to chemistry.
“I think the keys of success have been our team chemistry. We started this season with seven new girls on only a 16 person squad, and the returners instantly welcomed these girls into our New Paltz volleyball family and we have formed great bonds,” Annunziata said. “This off the court chemistry has bled onto the court, and the last two weeks we have been really clicking and playing together as a unit.”
On Sept. 17 and 18, the Hawks hosted the Hawks Invitational where they went 4-0. The tournament was topped off with a dramatic come-from-behind win against an undefeated Clarkson team that clinched their victory of the invitational. Giufre said he believes that this was one of the games this year that showed the Hawks character and perseverance.
“It was a great confidence building weeken,” Giufre said. “It showed us what we’re capable of doing each time we play.”
Annunziata called the Hawk Invitational an “eye opener” for the team, saying it helped them realize the potential they had.
However, team members agree that the Hawks’ real strength is their play at home.
The Hawks are currently riding a 30 game home winning streak, and have not lost a match at home since 2006.
“It’s fun to be home, our fans are great, it’s a great atmosphere to play in,” Giufre said. “It just seems like at home we get that extra boost, but it’s up to us to put on a show worth supporting. The fans don’t score any points or dig any balls, but it’s nice to hear their support and encouragement. It’s very energizing.”
According to Giufre, many players have stepped up this season and are a big reason for the team’s success.
“Offensively, Dana Kindelmann and Michelle Jacobson are way ahead of where they were in the past. It’s been a huge lift for us,” Giufre said. “We have a lot of talent and are a very deep team, which allows us to be competitive in practice every day and prepare ourselves for all types of opponents.”
Kindelmann said she believes that while the returning members of the team have been doing their jobs and have been role models, the team’s new members are a driving force in their success.
“All of our new players have really stepped up and proved themselves,” she said. “We have two freshman setters and a freshman libero in the starting lineup and great players ready to go on the court and play at any time.”
Annunziata believes that the younger players that are on the team have added to the team’s depth is especially helpful throughout games.
“Our team is very underclassmen heavy, with only four upperclassman…We have the confidence in whoever Coach puts in to get the job done and help us win,” Annunziata said. “We have a lot of talent in the starting lineup and in the reserves…Anyone could be put in a situation, and we trust that they will be able to succeed.”
As for the future, the team hopes to finish deep into the NCAA Tournament and win important games.
“We’ve played some great volleyball against very strong teams. Our schedule does not get any lighter. If we continue to work hard, our strong schedule will keep us prepared to do well in Conference play and in the post-season,” Giufre said.
Kindelmann shared Giufre’s confidence in the team’s ability to finish their season strong and continue their success.
“If we keep practicing hard and stay mentally strong we will be ready for anything or any team that comes our way,” Kindelmann said.