The women’s volleyball team has locked up the No. 4 seed in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament after winning two of their final three regular season conference matchups over the weekend.
The Hawks will host a first round matchup against No. 5 seed SUNY Oneonta on Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. in the Hawk Center.
“We’re already spending time focusing on Oneonta,” Hawks head coach Matt Giufre said. “We’ve started watching film on them and we’re gonna add a wrinkle to our offense to see if we can spark some more efficient point scoring. We also need to figure out how we can maximize each of our players a little better.
“We’ve had stretches of good play and we need to lengthen them, whether it be for an entire set or an entire match. When we’ve been successful this year we’ve had it, and when we’ve struggled it has been very on and off. That’s what it boils down to at this point; can we maintain our full potential that we have seen at chunks of time this season?”
New Paltz began this past weekend with a 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 28-26) win over Oneonta on Friday, Oct. 20.
The first set remained close throughout, as the two teams were tied at 19-all. But a kill from second-year outside hitter Maddie Van Pelt, two service aces from first-year setter Caleigh Carr, a block by second-year middle hitter Kerri Neville and first-year outside hitter Julie Greenspan and two attacking errors led the Hawks on a 6-0 run to finish off and capture the first set.
Similar to the first set, the second set was tightly contested as both team were tied at 23-all. A kill from third-year outside hitter Taylor Cimillo gave New Paltz a 24-23 advantage, but the Red Dragons rallied off two straight points to tie the match 1-1.
The Hawks handily won the third set, but had to battle hard for the fourth set. New Paltz held a 16-10 lead before Oneonta went on a 7-3 run to make it 19-17. The Red Dragons then went on a 7-1 run to draw within one point of a fifth set. But blocks from Neville, Cimillo and fourth-year setter Maddie Zwickl, an attacking error and a kill by Van Pelt tied it up at 24-all.
A service error gave Oneonta a 25-24 advantage, but Van Pelt tied it up again with a kill. Red Dragons second-year right side, and former Hawk, Meghan Keyes drew her team within match point again with a kill of her own. Van Pelt then executed another kill and an attacking error put the Hawks within one point of a win. Greenspan sealed the victory with her fifth kill of the match off a rare assist from first-year middle hitter Demi Herasme.
Cimillo and Van Pelt tied their season highs with 20 and 19 kills, respectively. Zwickl dished out 45 assists and fourth-year libero Veronica Matedero defended 21 digs.
New Paltz began the following day with a 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-20) victory over SUNY Oswego.
During the Hawks’ dominant first set, Zwickl recorded her 4,435th career assist to pass Katie Becofsky ‘08 for second on the program’s all-time career assist leaders. She now only trails her predecessor Marissa King ‘14 who dished out 4,639 assists as a Hawk.
The second set proved more challenging, as the Lakers held a 17-8 lead. But New Paltz battled back to make it 22-all before the Hawks closed out the set on a 3-1 run to go up 2-0 in the match.
The third set was close early on, as New Paltz had a slim 14-13 advantage, but the Hawks finished on an 11-7 run to secure the sweep.
Cimillo led the offense with nine kills, while second-year defensive specialist Nicole Fellone held down the defense with 14 digs.
Later that day, New Paltz lost to SUNY Fredonia 3-1 (25-16, 15-25, 25-20, 25-14). Cimillo had another strong performance as she registered 19 kills, while Zwickl dished out 34 assists and Matedero tallied 28 digs.
“It’s exciting to win two out of the three games, but we still really need to be pushing to win all three for the future and it’s necessary for us to realize that as a team we can do better,” Zwickl said. “I’m really proud of my team for doing everything they could this weekend, but we know that we have more potential to give and we can prove it in SUNYAC games to come.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 25 the Hawks took down cross-river rival Vassar College 3-1 (25-13, 25-17, 22-25, 25-19). Herasme, Cimillo and first-year outside hitter Emma Hines led the attack with 13, 12 and 10 kills, respectively.
New Paltz will have one final tune-up before the SUNYAC Tournament, as they will next compete in the Skidmore Tournament from Friday, Oct. 27 to Saturday, Oct. 28.