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Volleyball struggles through first two tournaments

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Tue, Sep 10th 2019 11:00 pm
Sophomore middle blocker Myah Frostclap and outside hitter Lindsey Luce look on as a ball was hit in the air during a match last season at Buffalo State against Geneseo.
Sophomore middle blocker Myah Frostclap and outside hitter Lindsey Luce look on as a ball was hit in the air during a match last season at Buffalo State against Geneseo.

For a program that is accustomed to winning at an impressive rate, The College at Brockport volleyball team is facing a new challenge. Only a few players remain from the program’s last SUNYAC championship team in 2017. Not only are there few players with championship experience, there are not many players who were a part of Brockport’s 2018 squad. Add in a tough schedule with two tournaments on the road to open the season and there is a logical explanation for the slow start the Golden Eagles have endured.

On Aug. 30 and 31, Brockport opened its season at a tournament at the University of Mount Union in Alliance, OH. The Golden Eagles took the first match of the tournament against The College of Wooster by a score of 3-0. That was the team’s only win of the weekend, as it fell to Mount Union and Muskingum University in straight sets in back-to-back matches and Earlham College 3-2.

Junior middle blocker Meaghan Mastro paced the Golden Eagles in kills at the Mount Union Tournament with 37  over the four matches. She was aided by sophomore outside hitter Andrea Coyle in the last two matches, who racked up 19 kills over that time. Senior setter Abbey Manning provided the most assists for her squad, racking up 62 of them over the four matches.

The tough early-season tournaments will go a long way to making the team gel. It will also allow for quicker growth as a team as conference play approaches, according to Mastro.

“The tough early-season schedule is a great experience to prepare us for conference play,” Mastro said. “We improve more when we play tough teams. These teams teach us how to face adversity, which will be important for SUNYAC play.”

Brockport’s second weekend tournament ended up looking a lot like the first. This time, the Golden Eagles traveled to the Clarkson Tournament, but the majority of the games were played at St. Lawrence University. Just like the Mount Union Tournament, Brockport took the first match in straight sets, defeating D’Youville College 3-0. Wheaton College (Mass.) and St. Lawrence were the next two opponents for Brockport and each of them barely held on for victory. The Golden Eagles dropped each match 3-2 but lost a close fifth set in each match. Franklin and Marshall College was the last team to match up with the Golden Eagles and won in straight sets.

For the second weekend in a row, Mastro and Coyle tallied the most kills on the team. Mastro had 36 and Coyle collected 34. Sophomore setter took control as the leader in assists at the Clarkson Tournament, dishing out 75 helpers.

With a significant number of new players on the roster, some growing pains were to be expected early in the season. While the first weekends resulted in mostly losses, the experience provided Brockport with an opportunity to grow as a team and get everyone acclimated to playing with one another, according to senior middle blocker Elena Grossman.

“I think we need to mesh more as a team, which we do really well, just not well enough yet,” Grossman said. “We always start the season playing really good teams and a lot of our games were close, so even though we lost there’s still a lot of good things that come out of every game. We watch a ton of film and analyze everything so we can take all the mistakes and errors from every game into practice to fix them.”

Looking to shake off the slow start, Brockport has a non-conference match against Roberts Wesleyan on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. on the road. Sept. 13 and 14 will be the first chance for the Golden Eagles to play in front of the home crowd at the Brockport Invitational. Mastro feels that playing at home will help the Golden Eagles because of the familiarity it presents.

“A home tournament is something we look forward to because we don’t have to perform after being on a long bus ride,” Mastro said. “Our home court is obviously what we practice on all the time, so it is where we are most comfortable. Not to mention, we tend to get more family, friends and fans at home, so that helps create a more intense atmosphere.”

The Brockport Invitational will also include the University of Rochester, Ithaca College and Hamilton College. Brockport will take on Rochester on Friday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Hamilton and Ithaca will both face the Golden Eagles the next day, with the Hamilton match set to start at 11:30 a.m. and the Ithaca match beginning at 2 p.m.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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