The Knights traveled to SUNY Potsdam from Friday Sept. 23-24 to compete in the SUNYAC Pool Play tournament of the season. The team defeated Potsdam 3-0 and SUNY Oswego 3-1, but lost 3-1 to SUNY Fredonia. “The team did well this past weekend. We had a couple players step up and do some nice things,” head coach Amber Dunn said. “As a team, we had some challenges to work through with the continued list of injuries that has taken its effect on us this season, but it forced our youth to take on big leadership roles.”
The Knights have had to look upon their younger players for added strength this season, but the SUNYAC Pool Play showed how much their hard work has been paying off. “Overall, it was great getting our first years introduced to SUNYAC Conference play and [to] come out of it doing things well,” Dunn said.
One issue with the SUNYAC Pool Play is that the team is forced to play three matches in less than 24 hours. This isn’t even taking into account the added travel time to Potsdam. This takes a toll on all of the athletes, but the Knights were able to handle it well.
“We certainly adapted and found ways to be successful,” Dunn said.
This was also an invaluable experience for the team because they were able to confront new situations and face new teams, all of which will help them to improve as the season goes on. It also allowed the team to show off some of the strengths that Dunn has been praising—particularly their defense. Dunn said that the defenders have really increased the level of competition on defense, as well as with the rest of the team.
The entire team performed well, but some individual players stood out and had excellent weekends. Freshman outside hitter Grace Cergol, for instance, won Geneseo’s Female Athlete of the Week. She was crucial to the team’s success against Alfred State College and continued to shine in SUNYAC Pool Play, contributing a 10 kill/12 dig match in the win against Oswego and a 13 kill/13 dig match in the loss against Fredonia.
Freshman middle blocker Kat Vernon also stepped up in her first SUNYAC Pool Play weekend, and it was her third appearance as a starter. “[Vernon] did well with 5 kills and 4 blocks for the weekend,” Dunn said.
It was inevitable that there would be a learning curve associated with having so many young players, but it seems that the freshman have learned pretty quickly and have helped turn Geneseo volleyball into a force to be reckoned with.
The Knights play again on Thursday Sept. 29 at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford and come back home to play on Saturday Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. versus Farmingdale State College.