The women’s volleyball team opened SUNYAC play this weekend without losing a set.
The Hawks first defeated SUNY Oneonta on Friday afternoon in three sets. Third-year outside hitter Becca Borquist totaled 16 points.
On Saturday, the Hawks won their first of two matches of the day against SUNY Potsdam.
Fourth-year libero Katy Herbst led the defense with 18 digs, while first-year setter Maddie Zwickl provided offensive support with 34 assists.
In their third match of the weekend, the Hawks faced SUNY Cortland, and again came out on top three sets to none. Zwickl tallied 33 assists.
The team now has a record of 17-3 overall.
Head Coach Matt Giufre was very optimistic prior to the matches.
“We don’t really do anything different [to prepare] we try to have good practices and plan for teams,” he said. “[We] watch film like we usually do [and] ultimately want to win every game.”
Giufre was rewarded with just that, a winning team.
This season’s Hawks bare a striking resemblance to the last women’s team to win the SUNYAC conference. In 2009, the team clinched their first SUNYAC title defeating SUNY Cortland and advanced on to the NCAA tournament.
“In terms of raw athleticism [and] raw athletic talent, I think this year’s team has more than the ‘09 team,” Giufre said.
Herbst felt that this weekend’s opening wins were a good start.
“We always make it a goal to earn most of our points…versus another team making mistakes,” she said. “I think this weekend especially we did a very good job of minimizing our mistakes and earning our own points.”
Herbst also believes, along with her coach, that the team exceeds athleticism and fitness. She attributes a lot of their success to being able to outwork a team in the fifth set.
“Every fifth set, knock on wood, we have won and it’s definitely because of our pure athleticism this year,” she said.
Giufre and Herbst also agree the the team’s first-years have stepped up under pressure. Both credited Zwickl, who was named New Paltz Athlete of the Week on Sept. 29, as one of the game-changing players this year.
Zwickl also felt the team put in an impressive performance over the weekend.
The main components of their success, she said, is the passion they have to win, constantly learning from their mistakes and keeping eachother motivated.
Zwickl is not only a new addition to the lineup, but only one of two players, both of whom are first-years, to play the setter position. She has been notably successful, even without an upperclassman setter role model.
“I’m a freshman and Melannie [Aquino] and I are the only two setters but I think it’s what I need because I have always looked up to people to be like,” Zwickl said. “Now finally being here, and having this team push me, really makes me believe in myself more and want to be better for this team.”
The Hawks continue their young season and the quest for a title on the road against Williams College on Oct. 7.