Competitive mentality lifts volleyball at Oswego State Fall Classic

The Geneseo volleyball team faced similar competition that SUNYAC pool play offers at the Oswego State Fall Classic. The tournament brought together fellow Division III programs, including SUNYAC competitor SUNY Oswego, as well as Alfred State College, which was provisionally accepted into the NCAA Division II in April.

Even at this point in the season, though, the Knights are still working out some kinks. Like the first few weeks of the season, consistency and mental toughness continued to plague the young squad.

“The positive is we have so much depth and so much talent,” head coach Jen Salmon said. “I think one thing we can also pull from that is the consistency piece … It’s a different person stepping up, finishing and getting the job done [each weekend].”

The Knights opened the tournament with two victories over Elmira State College and Alfred State on Sept. 20. Geneseo finished both teams in straight sets.

The first match on Saturday Sept. 21 was different story, though. Geneseo couldn’t keep up with momentum-driven Oswego, who entered the match 9-6. The Lakers were coming off a four-game win streak, including taking straight sets against Utica College and Alfred State, in addition to persevering through a 3-2 match against Elmira.

Outside hitter junior Meagan Johnson led the Knights with 10 kills and three digs. Other kills came from freshmen Emma Lannon and Tricia Baxley who tallied nine apiece, and classmate Courtney Cleary added eight.

The Knights have another chance to defeat Oswego on Oct. 12 in SUNYAC pool play.

Geneseo rebounded from the loss and emerged victorious in the final game on Saturday against Hilbert College in straight sets. Johnson and Baxley led the offense once again with sophomore Paige Pendleton also adding nine kills.

Johnson and Cleary received All-Tournament honors for their efforts over the weekend. While Johnson was more of an offensive presence, Cleary contributed on defense with three solo blocks and seven block assists over the four games. Johnson and Cleary are two additional volleyball student-athletes who have been honored this year. Not one member of the squad has been honored twice so far – further demonstrating Geneseo’s lack of a core group of consistent players who can be relied upon match after match.

But Salmon has an idea who is among the starting lineup – which players are the most talented and most skilled – but she said that group isn’t always the first group out on the court.

“People are coming in and out, and they’re getting opportunity; if they don’t take advantage of it, someone else is given another opportunity,” she said.

“It’s whoever earns that spot in that moment that is going to be on the court,” Salmon added.

The Knights begin conference play on Friday Sept. 27 with a .500 overall record. Geneseo faces Buffalo State College, SUNY Brockport and SUNY New Paltz over the weekend.