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Volleyball built for the postseason

by Paul Cifonelli - Staff Writer
Sat, Oct 27th 2018 03:00 pm
Junior outside hitter, Lindsey Luce jumps to spike a ball back at the Potsdam opposition. Following the weekend tournament, Brockport sits at third in the SUNYAC standings.
Junior outside hitter, Lindsey Luce jumps to spike a ball back at the Potsdam opposition. Following the weekend tournament, Brockport sits at third in the SUNYAC standings.
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The College at Brockport women’s volleyball team has experienced high levels of success in recent years and is still on track to do so this season. Brockport has established itself as one of the top teams in the conference after consecutively winning the SUNYAC title since 2015. The Golden Eagles were also undefeated in the conference over that span. In comparison to recent years, the 2018 season has been rough for the team, but successful nonetheless.

Brockport dropped a match 3-0 to New Paltz in its first SUNYAC Pool Play of the season. In the next set of pool play matches, losing to Geneseo 3-0. The two losses knocked the Golden Eagles out of a chance at first place for a fourth straight season, but they still set themselves up nicely for the SUNYAC tournament, barring a disaster in the final pool play matches on Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20. As expected, Brockport managed three wins to secure the third seed for the SUNYAC tournament.

Brockport’s lone match on Friday was against Potsdam, who was still fighting for a spot in the conference tournament. The green and gold dominated the Potsdam Bears through the first two sets, beating them 25-18 and 25-16. Brockport failed to close out the match in three sets as the team dropped the third 25-22. 

The Golden Eagles rebounded to take the fourth set 25-17 along with the match, 3-1. Senior outside hitter Cassie Birth led the team with 17 kills in the game, while sophomore outside hitter, Laiken Fox racked up 14 kills. Sophomore middle blocker, Meaghan Mastro and senior defensive specialist, Maddy Taylor led Brockport serving with three aces. Freshman setter, Kerri McHale recorded 46 of the team’s 50 assists in the match. 

McHale has taken over as the primary setter recently, leaving senior setter Emily Orminski as a reserve. Head coach, Steve Pike made the adjustment based off of the team’s offensive output. Considering Orminski’s experience and her impact on the first half of the season, it’s surprising to see a freshman taking the setter position so close to playoffs. 

“Her [Emily] and Kerri have been our setters for most of the season. It was a little bit back and forth and for a while Emily was leading our offense,” Pike said. “But now it seems more recently that Kerri is doing a bit of a better job. It’s good for us to have two people that can both do it well.”

Saturday’s matches proved to be even easier for the Golden Eagles than Friday’s. The first match of the day was against SUNY Oswego. The Lakers entered the match with a 14—11 record but were just 2—4 in SUNYAC play. Their struggles continued as they did not fare well against Brockport. The Golden Eagles won three sets 25-20, 25-21 and 25-21. Birth and Fox once again led the team in kills with 13 a piece. McHale was credited with 29 of the team’s 35 assists and Mastro and Taylor combined for three more aces. Freshman defensive specialist, Shelby Budnick led the entire team in aces during the match with three.

Brockport’s final match of the weekend was against SUNY Oneonta. The Golden Eagles started slow, losing the first set 25-22. After that, the Red Dragons were overmatched by Brockport. The Golden Eagles won the next three sets 25-14, 25-19, 25-15. Birth and Fox yet again led the way with 16 kills and junior outside hitter, Lindsey Luce totaled 11 against Oneonta. McHale collected another 46 assists, 14 digs and one kill. Taylor recorded two aces while Budnick, McHale, Mastro and junior defensive specialist Christa Mickol all had one.

Despite the victories, the Golden Eagles will not enter SUNYACs in their familiar top spot. However, the players, especially Taylor, are taking the same approach to the tournament.

“I don’t really think that affects us at all,” Taylor said. “We had a goal at the beginning of the year and that’s never changed.”

Brockport is heading into the SUNYAC tournament with a lot of momentum, winning nine matches in a row, five of them against conference opponents. The Golden Eagles appear to be peaking at the right time, which gives the team a necessary boost of confidence since Brockport is no longer the top seed entering playoffs. 

The Golden Eagles will look to continue their winning streak with four matches this week. The team plays on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Rochester Institute of Technology. Brockport then travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a tournament on Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27. The team will end its regular season with games against Ohio Wesleyan, Carnegie Mellon and Ithaca.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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