For the second year in a row, the women’s volleyball team was unable to defeat The College at Brockport in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament Championship match, losing with a score of 3-1 (21-25, 19-25, 26-24, 14-25) on Saturday, Nov. 5.
This is the fourth year in a row the Hawks participated in the final round of the tournament, which they last won in 2014. They finished their season with a 19-14 record and Brockport clinched an automatic berth into the NCAA Div. III Tournament.
Hawks head coach Matt Giufre said that despite the losses in consecutive final appearances, the team managed to stay confident and avoid distraction.
“Something that we did a lot better than last year’s finals was that we handled the moment, mentally and emotionally,” he said. “We were very calm and confident going into the match. Brockport had a really great crowd and we didn’t let them distract us. We focused on our gameplan and ourselves and I thought that was a big difference from last year.”
The Hawks saw five fourth-years play their final collegiate games. Outside hitters Morgan Roessler and Anna Paulik, middle hitters Brittany Tyack and Chantal Ramhorst, and libero Meg Kinee are among those student-athletes.
The Hawks won one set for the match and it proved to be a close one, as the Hawks won 26-24. Late in the set, Brockport took a 22-21 lead after going on a 6-1 run. The Hawks tied the score at 23 and used senior leadership down the stretch as Roessler and Ramhorst notched several kills to keep the Hawks alive, winning 26-24.
“I think [leadership] has something to do with how we played,” Giufre said. “The team this season was a more composed team overall. We’ve had great veteran leadership and that really set the tone for the tournament. One of our leaders said to the team, ‘rather than fight the nervousness, embrace it and let it drive you,’ and I thought that was a great line because the [younger] players used that to their advantage.”
Other notable performances came from third-year libero Veronica Matedero and third-year setter Maddie Zwickl. Matedero contributed 30 digs on defense while Zwickl notched a double-double with 35 assists and 16 digs. Because of their performances, Roessler and Zwickl were named to the All-Tournament Team.
“[Brockport] is such a balanced team,” Giufre said. “There’s really nothing that I say we could have done differently this year other than sometimes you don’t have your ‘A’ game. It’s through no fault other than being a human being and that’s what it came down to. It’s disappointing to not go out playing your best, but Brockport had a lot to do with that.”
Graduating player impact
In her two seasons, Kinee finished with 526 digs, averaging 2.21 digs per set. Roessler finished her four-year career being named team Most Valuable Player (MVP) as a junior, and delivered 1266 career kills and 179 digs.
Paulik finished her four-year career with 713 kills and 1356 digs, Ramhorst finished her four-year campaign with 249 kills and 134 digs, and Tyack finished with 373 kills and 74 digs in her career.
“This team had great character, great work ethic, no drama, great communicators,” Giufre said. “This was one of the best teams we’ve had. I thought our five seniors did a good job of being a role model of what we want our players to be all about. The freshmen assimilated themselves right away and I think it’s because the veterans created an open path for them to do that.”
The Hawks will have three fourth-year players on next year’s team and will look to win a third championship under Giufre’s term.
“I don’t really look at any season as a rebuilding season, I look at it as we have to retool and reload and compete for another championship,” Giufre said. “It will be with different personnel, so it will be with a different type of system. I expect to have another team full of great players and get them to come together and play as one like any other year.”