Volleyball finds rhythm at Nazareth tourney

On a team with essentially all first-year collegiate players, who’s to lead? Geneseo’s volleyball team is still figuring that out in its second week into the 2013 season.

With a young team - one junior, eight sophomores and six freshmen - head coach Jen Salmon said she thought it would be best to try something different, something that follows the theme of this season: change.

“Everything is new …They were never told or trained and didn’t have an upperclassman to show them how to do it,” Salmon said. “It’s neat to see new traditions forming, and we’re building from the bottom up foundationally.”

Five teammates make up a leadership council that meets with Salmon and helps develop direction on and off the court.

Unlike captain positions, the five aren’t “relied upon to make the tough decisions in every situation,” Salmon said.

And so far, the student-athletes accept the idea, too.

“A lot of us did step up, so I think it would’ve been unfair to call certain people captains over others, just because a lot of us did that role,” sophomore Sam Holdredge said.

Holdredge is among the five chosen for the leadership council. Each class year is represented in freshman Maddie Palmer, sophomores Erika Dannenfelser, Paige Pendleton and Holdredge, as well as junior Meagan Johnson.

Then again, they’re not alone. Each student-athlete, Holdredge said, has taken a leadership role this year because of the team’s youth and inexperience.

One Knight that stood out at the Golden Flyer Invitational at Nazareth College was sophomore Lizzy Morton. Tallying 45 kills and 37 digs from Sept. 6 to Sept. 7., Morton received All-Tournament honors for her efforts.

The Burnt Hills, N.Y., native leads by example, remaining consistent and focused throughout a match, and is vocal on the court, Salmon said.

“I was really happy with her play this last weekend,” she said. “She really did step up since she was a sixth rotation player.”

The Knights completed the tournament 2-2 in their second of four tournaments before SUNYAC play begins in late September. Geneseo defeated the University of Scranton and Hilbert College, but fell to Nazareth and Rochester Institute of Technology.

Geneseo faced Hilbert a few days beforehand on Sept. 4, and while the Knights took the win, it wasn’t the team’s best appearance, Salmon said. It took the back-to-back win against the Hawks two days later in the first day of the Golden Flyer Invitational to boost the Knights confidence.

“It showed with our decision-making and less unforced errors,” Salmon said. The game set the tone for the weekend with the Knights emerging as a different team than the first weekend.

Approaching the Ducks Classic on Friday Sept. 12 and Saturday Sept. 13 at Stevens Institute of Technology, the focus will remain on improving.

“The outcome will take care of itself,” Salmon said. “We can’t expect to snap our fingers and be the team we expect to be because we will be there someday, but we need the patience in the process.”