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Volleyball plays its way into favorable playoff position

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Tue, Oct 29th 2019 09:00 pm
Sophomore Kerri McHale lines up the ball as she serves it to Wells College's side on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Sophomore Kerri McHale lines up the ball as she serves it to Wells College's side on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Even though The College at Brockport volleyball team already clinched a playoff spot, it still had a lot to play for in its final two conference matchups of the season. Brockport was able to secure a first round bye with a pair of victories. Those wins had to be earned, as SUNY Oswego and SUNY Cortland, this past weekend’s opponents, also had a lot on the line.

Brockport entered the weekend sporting a 5—2 conference record, the same record as Oswego, with just one game worse than Cortland. All three teams had the ability to get that second bye, as SUNY Geneseo, who also played Cortland and Oswego, needed one win to secure the top seed. Brockport showed up to the matches ready to play and earned two hard-fought victories.

Oswego and Brockport went back and forth the entire match. The Golden Eagles took a commanding 18-9 lead in the first set, but saw the Lakers rattle off eight straight points to tighten up the score again. After trading points a few more times, Oswego pulled out the first set 28-26. Brockport was able to defeat Oswego in the second and third sets with relative ease to take a 2-1 advantage. With the fourth set being just as even as the first, Oswego scraped out another point by a score of 25-23. When the fifth and final set came around, Brockport withstood a furious attack at the beginning and rebounded to claim the set and match. It was a much needed win for the Golden Eagles but was also a very draining match. The team did not let that affect it headed into a very important matchup against Cortland the next day.

“It wasn’t difficult [to reset and face Cortland the next day] because we go into the next game with the same mindset regardless of the previous game’s outcome,” senior outside hitter Lindsey Luce said.

Cortland proved to be the most important opponent Brockport had faced all season, as the winner of the match earned the free pass through the first round of the SUNYAC Tournament. The Red Dragons stole the first set from the Golden Eagles, but were unable to win any other sets. Brockport commanded the final three and came away with its second crucial victory in as many days.

For a team that has dominated with its depth throughout the season, Brockport saw its top players step up in its biggest matches. Luce and junior middle blocker Meaghan Mastro led the Golden Eagles in kills each game, while sophomore setter Kerri McHale paced the squad in assists both days. Sophomore defensive specialist Ellen Paddock picked up 54 digs over the two matches.

After securing its place in the SUNYAC Tournament, Brockport has one more weekend invitational to end the regular season. It is hosting its second invitational of the season, with matches against Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University and St. John Fisher College on the schedule. All three teams are at or near the top of their respective leagues and will help to prepare Brockport for postseason play.

“This weekend’s invite will be a good challenge to keep us in a very competitive mindset heading into the SUNYAC Tournament,” McHale said. “The teams we’ll be facing are strong and it’ll give us a great chance to go out and continue to get better and find ways to score and defend in our upcoming SUNYAC matches.”

The second Brockport Invite of the season will take place on Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2. The match against Clarkson is on Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. On Nov. 2, Brockport will face St. Lawrence at 11:30 a.m. and St. John Fisher at 3:30 p.m.

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