The Women’s Volleyball team has clinched its second-straight State University of New York Athletic Conference’s (SUNYAC) regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC Tournament. As a result of clinching the top seed in the SUNYAC conference, the Hawks will serve as host to the 2014 SUNYAC Tournament, which will run from Friday, Nov. 7 to Sunday, Nov. 9.
The Hawks won all three matches participating in the third and final SUNYAC Pool Play of the season last weekend hosted by SUNY Fredonia – defeating host Fredonia, Geneseo and Oswego at the event.
On Friday, Oct. 24, the Hawks defeated their host in a final score of 3-1 in four sets (25-27, 25-17, 25-13, 26-24.) Fourth-year libero Katy Herbst tallied 21 digs. Third-year outside hitter Becca Borquist added 18 kills, along with a .300 hitting percentage and 13 digs. First-year setter Maddie Zwickl put up a total of 49 assists. The Hawks outhit the Blue Devils, .203 to .073, for the match, and they had nine service aces to Fredonia’s two.
Head Coach Matt Giufre said the matchup was an important one for both teams. It was a very emotionally challenging match because of the great crowd whose intensity gave Fredonia some extra adrenaline, he said.
“We knew at the time [that this game] was going to probably dictate who had the best chance to host,” he said. “I thought that we executed our game plan really well and we blocked extremely well. I don’t think there was an area of our game that we did not do to the best of our ability.”
The following day, the Hawks won matches against both SUNY Geneseo and SUNY Oswego.
In the first match, New Paltz took the match against SUNY Geneseo 3-1 in four sets (25-13, 20-25, 25-10, 25-18.) This win officially secured the top seed in the SUNYAC conference for the Hawks. Borquist led the Hawk attack with 14 kills and a .308 hitting percentage. On the defensive end, she added 10 digs. Other team highs for the match included Herbst’s 26 digs and Zwickl tallied 43 assists.
As a team, the Hawks outscored the Knights 9-4 in service aces and in total team blocks, 8-2. In the SUNYAC standings, the Hawks are atop the conference in the service aces category.
Later in the day, the Hawks swept SUNY Oswego 3-0 in three sets (25-19, 25-16, 25-16.)Borquist led the team with nine kills and leads the SUNYAC conference in the category. Herbst totaled a match-high 16 digs. Zwickl tallied 33 assists.
Because they are now hosting the SUNYAC tournament, The Hawks receive a bye through the quarterfinal round and will host either The College at Brockport or SUNY Oswego on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. The winner of the SUNYAC Tournament will earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re happy, but our goal is to win the tournament,” Giufre said. “There’s a lot of work to do to finish off the title, so that’s what we’re really focused on.”
The Hawks currently have an overall record of 26-5 and a 9-0 record in SUNYAC play. Before the Hawks participate in the 2014 SUNYAC Tournament, they close out their regular season schedule playing three non-conference matches in the Skidmore Tournament in Saratoga Springs from Friday, Oct. 31 to Saturday, Nov. 1.
Giufre said the remaining three regular season non-conference games will be used to make sure any bugs are worked out and to make sure they feel like they are in-sync and playing well together.
“At this point, we’re not really looking to add anything, we’re just looking to polish up a couple of the sets that we run and a couple of defensive spots,” he said. “It’s kind of business as usual this week and really the rest of the way.”
Herbst said the team is very proud to have gotten to this record for the second season.
“We couldn’t be happier to go undefeated in conference play two years in a row,” she said.”Being able to host is such a great opportunity.”
As for the 2014 SUNYAC Tournament, fourth-year middle hitter Alli Coleman said after last year’s loss in the finals, the Hawks are taking no teams lightly regardless of whether they have previously defeated them or not.
“We are treating each game as if we are playing a team we never have before,” she said. “As a team, we have focused on respecting the opponent and making sure to take one team at a time. We are ultimately going to play our game like we always do. The only difference from last year will be that we need to maintain the mentality that we cannot go into a match expecting a win.”
Giufre said the team is going to have the same lifting and practice days next week. Besides that, he said the team is going to try to create the same camaraderie at home as on the road since the Hawks will be hosting.
“You don’t have that sense of togetherness that you do have in a hotel and on a bus. We’re going to try to get together for a couple of team meals and do that,” he said. “Other than that, we’re really not doing anything differently. We’re going to put out the same scouting reports and same types of practices and do what has worked to get us to this point.”