After dropping three straight games, the New Paltz women’s volleyball team has responded by stringing together four wins in a row.
The Hawks fell to State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) rival Geneseo on Friday, Sept. 22 at the SUNYAC Pool Play before capturing victories against Potsdam and host Plattsburgh.
The team returned home to beat Western Connecticut State in three sets (25-15, 25-23, 25-19) before defeating Williams College on Tuesday, Oct. 3 in the Hawk Center 3-1 (16-25, 25-22, 25-15, 25-22).
Hawks head coach Matt Giufre said the team has found a rhythm offensively after cleaning up their game.
“The players haven’t lost their competitive edge,” Giufre said. “[The losses] haven’t bothered their psyche. They have buckled down and played more consistently while maintaining pulse and determination.”
Against Williams, the Hawks and the Ephs were neck and neck early on in the first set until the latter broke away with a 17-10 lead. New Paltz got within striking distance 21-16, but Williams was able to hang on and secure the early lead.
The Hawks collected themselves and responded with a close 25-22 set to even things up 1-1. The third saw New Paltz take a 25-15 edge followed by a 25-22 win in the fourth to secure the victory.
Third-year outside hitter Taylor Cimillo had a big game, collecting 12 kills, two service aces, one assist and 14 digs. Second-year middle hitter Kerri Neville was right behind Cimillo with 12 kills, one service ace and one block.
First-year Demi Herasme recorded 10 kills and two blocks while fourth-year setter Maddie Zwickl registered 46 assists and one block. Altogether, New Paltz bested Williams in kills (50-47), service aces (7-3) and assists (49-47).
Giufre said that he sees the best volleyball this team can play ahead of them, not behind.
“Taylor Cimillo has stabilized the outside hitter position, Kerri Neville has had matches beyond her experience level and Demi Herasme for a freshman has put up great numbers,” Giufre said. “The leadership of the seniors (Maddie Zwickl and Veronica Matadero) has been outstanding.”
Giufre went on to add that despite a lot of players new to being primary players, it’s important they keep up the high level of performance.
“We’ve limited errors and have been able to score,” he said. “We have a lot of young, inexperienced hitters which led to us being streaky. We just have to learn to keep scoring efficiently.”
Up next for the Hawks is a trip to Geneseo for another SUNYAC Pool Play. New Paltz will have matches against Buffalo State on Friday, Oct. 6 and a double dip on Saturday, Oct. 7 with Cortland and the College at Brockport at 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.