Volleyball turns season around with big weekend

It's no secret that the women's volleyball team has struggled this season. Going into last weekend, the Knights had lost six of their last seven matches and were at a higher risk of losing their once-promising season to costly mental errors and inconsistent play.

Enter Douglas Raynor, Geneseo professor of psychology. He was called upon last Wednesday to sit down with the team in hopes of unearthing the problem behind its slow start.

"We've been doing some mental training, but I think having someone from the outside come in with the experience of Dr. Raynor was helpful," said head coach Jen Salmon, who personally extended the invitation to Raynor.

According to Salmon, the volleyball team needed an opportunity to sit down together and talk about how the season had been progressing. "[Dr. Raynor] was leading them through figuring out what they needed to do as a team to step up," she said.

Whatever Raynor did seemed to work; the Knights appear to have finally put things together. Their new beginning started with a very encouraging practice on Thursday and culminated in a dominant weekend at home.

"I really felt that that was the best, most intense, focused practice we've had all season - I don't think, I know [it was]," Salmon said. "I think that was an indication of how the weekend was going to go."

On Friday, Geneseo opened up with a loss to SUNY Fredonia in three sets, a tough blow and one that could have derailed the team a couple of weeks ago. Instead of letting it resonate, however, the Knights went on to win a four set battle against SUNY Brockport, never losing again the rest of the weekend.

The Knights impressed once again on Saturday when, in their first match against Buffalo State, they erased a second set, seven-point deficit to take the set and eventually the match.

"That is something that we haven't done yet this year," said Salmon. "We've been in that same position at least five or six times this season and we haven't been able to come back, so I'm really happy."

Junior Jackie Inserillo led the Knights' comeback, serving 10 consecutive points to seal the four-point, second set victory. Senior Krista Frieling had 16 kills to pace the Knights and freshman Noelle Morrison dished out 33 assists as Geneseo won in three sets, 25-15, 25-22, 25-16. "[Frieling] is always a dominant force and an offensive threat," said Salmon, who also praised her for stepping up when the team needed it most.

The Knights capped off their weekend bout of SUNYAC conference play by defeating SUNY Oswego in three sets, once again led by Frieling and Morrison who totaled 12 kills and 23 assists, respectively.

Although Geneseo did fall in four sets on Tuesday night to Roberts Wesleyan College, the Knights are looking ahead to building on their impressive weekend. "I'm not expecting to win every match, but I think that we're going in the right direction," Salmon said. "I honestly don't fear us reverting back to the rough road that we were on. I feel like it's only going to improve."

The Knights improved to 8-12 overall, but more importantly they are now 3-1 in SUNYAC conference play. They travel to the Nazareth College Invitational this Friday and Saturday, looking forward to a rematch against rival Fredonia.