Despite falling to Buffalo State in the SUNYAC Championship game, the Women’s Volleyball team earned an at-large bid in the Div. III NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.
The Lady Hawks will travel to Potsdam, N.Y. on Friday to take on Colby-Sawyer College in the first round, as part of the eight-team Clarkson Regional.
This is the third time in program history they’ve earned a Pool “C” berth in the NCAA Tournament, and will be their fourth time participating in the tournament. They were one of the 19 teams to earn a Pool “C” Berth this year.
The Lady Hawks were 9-0 in SUNYAC play and earned the right to host the SUNYAC Tournament. They beat SUNY Plattsburgh 3-2 (25-13, 20-25, 25-19, 24-26, 15-8) in the semifinals, before being upset by the No. 2 Lady Bengals 3-1 (26-28, 25-23, 25-22, 21-25) in the finals.
Head Coach Matt Giufre said he’s proud of how his team performed against Plattsburgh because of how strong of a defensive team they are, but said they were just “outplayed” the following day by Buffalo State.
“We unfortunately defensively didn’t do some things that we needed to do to get that win,” he said. “Hats off to them, they played better volleyball than we did.”
The Lady Hawks defeated the Lady Bengals 3-1 on Oct. 12 in the team’s only meeting during the regular season.
Fourth-year Captain Marissa King said the team didn’t have the right composure during the championship match.
“We kept fighting back from being down and we would finally tie it up with them, but then we couldn’t finish,” she said. “Once we were even with them, we were too jittery and we needed to be composed in those moments.”
Giufre said the team was very emotional after the Buffalo State match because of the uncertainty they were presented with.
“The seniors were wondering, ‘Is this it?’ Everyone’s upset and disappointed that somebody else is celebrating on our court,” he said. “I told them I was proud of them how they battled and competed.”
King said Giufre told the team to remain optimistic after the loss because he knew there was still a chance they could receive a bid to nationals.
“Coach kept it short and sweet right after the game and just told us that we have done so well this year, but that basically we didn’t play our game today,” she said.
King and fourth-year Captain Carrie Hack were named to the SUNYAC All-Tournament team.
Second-year outside hitter Becca Borquist said she was with her boyfriend when she got text a text telling her that the team received a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We have a group text message with the team and everyone was going wild about it,” she said.
Giufre said the team is going to practice hard this week and will attempt to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
“Every time we’ve been fortunate enough to make it that’s kind of been the expectation, that we’re not just happy to be there,” he said. “A group believed that we belong there, let’s show them that they were right.”
King said she expects the team to “come out on fire” in the NCAA Tournament because of their mindset.
“We will be going with the mentality that we are running on borrowed time, so I know the team will give it their all because there’s nothing to lose,” King said. “We know that the teams only get stronger as it goes on from here, but once you get to this point in the season, you just have to have fun and enjoy the time with the team.”