The State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz women’s volleyball team kicked off the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Bear Invitational in a mighty manner.
On Friday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m., the Hawks arrived in New London, Connecticut and were more than ready to face Eastern Connecticut State. The game only consisted of three sets because the Hawks swept the Warriors in a dominant and fierce appearance.
New Paltz started the first set off strong with a kill from third-year outside hitter Julie Greenspan, assisted by third-year setter Haley Timarky. Timarky also assisted a kill from fourth-year outside hitter Madison Van Pelt twice to give the Hawks their third and fourth points of the set. The Warriors retaliated with kills of their own to put the Hawks in a 12-10 deficit.
The set began to go back and forth, with yet another kill from Van Pelt and Timarky and an attack error from Eastern Connecticut’s second-year libero Madison Bell tied the game at 12. The tie was broken by the Hawks, but the Warriors managed to score their 13th point of the match.
Their comeback only fueled the appetites of the Hawks. The ladies in blue and orange struck back with eight unanswered points to bring the score to 22-13. The Warriors scored their last point of the game on a service error from the Hawks’ third-year setter Caleigh Carr, but the Hawks took the next three points to win the first set 25-14.
Similar to the first set, the second set went back and forth in terms of who held the lead. Throughout the set, the game tied up seven times, forcing the match to go into sudden death at the 24th point. Amazingly, a kill from Van Pelt and two consecutive attack errors by the Warriors’ second-year outside hitter Abby Stern, finished things once and for all, giving New paltz a two-set advantage going into what would be their final set.
Proving they weren’t ready to give up just yet, Eastern Connecticut initiated the third set with a 6-4 lead over New Paltz. Second-year Courtney Gebhardt and Van Pelt worked together with a kill and a service ace to even the score, but it wasn’t long before the Warriors tacked on two more points once more.
It may have seemed that both teams were just taking turns scoring two points, until the Hawks went on a six-point rampage, bringing the score to 12-8. At only a four-point difference, this score would serve as the largest point margin the set would ever have.
Just like the last set, the teams battled all the way to the 24th point. Similarly to the late set’s conclusion, kills from Neville and Van Pelt brought the Hawks to a 26-24 set victory and 3-0 game win.
Anyone can imagine the momentum the ladies had going into their big double header the next day against the hosting Coast Guard Academy at 10 a.m. and Worcester Institute of Technology at 2 p.m. The first game was a battle, with the Bears taking sets one and three and the Hawks taking sets two and four.
Unfortunately, the Hawks fell in the fifth set to Coast Guard for the second time this season, but the loss could not undermine some of the Hawks’ highlights. Gebhardt set a team high of 14 kills, third-year middle hitter Demi Herasme finished with a hitting percentage of .381, Timarky and Carr led the team with 23 and 21 assists. It’s easy to see how well this team represents New Paltz when they work together and showcase their grit and determination.
The Hawks came back strong in the second game of the day against the Engineers and clinched a five-set win.
The fifth set proved yet again to be intense combat. Things were looking iffy for the Hawks when the Engineers scored seven points in a row late, bringing the score to 13-10 Hawks. However, our ladies proved they can stay calm under pressure because a kill from Herasme and an attack error from Worcester’s first-year outside hitter Maddie Sanborn brought the Hawks to a 15-13 victory.
So the Hawks split their second day of the Coast Guard Invitational. First-year libero Mia Waddell and first-yar outside hitter Katie Steele performed well, with 11 digs from Waddell and 10 kills from Steele.
The weekend brought the Hawks to an overall record of 13-11 and 5-4 in the SUNYAC.
New Paltz will head to the Skidmore Invitational on Nov. 1 and 2 for a three-game final weekend before SUNYAC Championships begin.