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Volleyball drops pair of close matches at home

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Tue, Sep 17th 2019 09:00 pm
Sophomore Kerri McHale lines up a serve in her team's match against Hamilton.
Sophomore Kerri McHale lines up a serve in her team's match against Hamilton.

The non-conference schedule has not been kind to The College at Brockport volleyball team. Brockport has taken on stiff competition at its first three tournaments but has been unable to capture more than one victory in a weekend. With SUNYAC play opening on Tuesday, Sept. 17, the Golden Eagles have to learn from their experiences in non-conference play and fix the flaws.

Brockport hosted its annual Brockport Invitational on Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14. The University of Rochester, Hamilton College and Ithaca College all made the trip to play three matches over the two-day event. The Golden Eagles’ first match of the weekend was against Rochester on Friday, which they took 3-0. They then fell to Hamilton 3-2 and Ithaca 3-0 on Saturday.

Rochester was dominated by the Golden Eagles from the first serve, dropping the first set 25-13. A close second set was followed by another dominant third set for Brockport, propelling it to the sweep. Sophomore outside hitter Andrea Coyle led the offense with 14 kills and senior outside hitter Lindsey Luce chipped in 10. Sophomore setter Kerri McHale had 20 assists for Brockport and senior middle blocked Elena Grossman paced the team with three blocks.

The Golden Eagles’ contest against Hamilton was in their grasp for the first half of the match, then slipped away at the end. Brockport took the first set 25-16 and the second 25-23 to take a commanding 2-0 lead. Hamilton captured the next two sets 25-22 and 25-23, respectively. The decisive fifth set, which only goes to 15 points, also went to Hamilton. Brockport lost the final three sets by a combined eight points. Junior middle blocker Meaghan Mastro led the team with 16 kills, then Coyle and freshman outside hitter Megan Muehlbauer each picked up double digit kills. McHale and senior setter Abbey Manning tallied over 20 assists apiece and Grossman picked up three more blocks for the Golden Eagles.

Ithaca, the 22nd ranked team in the country, took down Brockport in a match that was much more competitive than it looked on the scoreboard. The Bombers took all three sets, but the first and third were won by a score of 25-23. Brockport did not hold a lead for any significant period of time in any set, but it played toe-to-toe with a nationally ranked team. Coyle, Luce, Mastro, Muehlbauer and Grossman all picked up between five and seven kills in the match. McHale once again paced the team in assists, while Mastro racked up four blocks and Luce had three.

While any loss hurts, dropping a match in straight sets can be tough on team morale. However, losing in such a competitive fashion to a team as skilled as Ithaca has the team feeling differently than other straight-set defeats.

“It felt different because we were competing and doing good things the whole time,” sophomore defensive specialist Ellen Paddock said.

Brockport’s record now sits at 4—8 heading into SUNYAC play. Last season, which was considered a down season for a historically dominant program, the Golden Eagles entered conference play with a 6—7 record, with two non-conference wins coming later in the season. Despite the tough start, the 2018 squad managed to finish 7—2 in SUNYAC play and claimed the third seed in the conference tournament. With the non-conference slates in both 2018 and 2019 being very difficult, head coach Steven Pike is still confident in his team as conference play begins.

“We’re confident in where we’re at,” Pike said. “We’re going to keep getting better. We’re better than we were two days ago, which is better than we were week one. We played this schedule for a reason, to get us ready for [SUNYAC competition].”

Brockport will open conference play on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at SUNY Geneseo. The Golden Eagles have more than a week off before their next matches on Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28.

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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