New Paltz Sports Information Department
Providence, RI — The State University of New York at New Paltz women's volleyball team's season has come to an end Saturday, losing 3-0 (16-25, 11-25, 13-25) to the No. 2 team in the AVCA national top-25 coaches poll, Johnson and Wales University, in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
"We talked about coming out aggressive, and try to do things to make them uncomfortable," said Hawks coach Matt Giufre. "Unfortunately, we didn't pass well enough to get going on offense, and as good as our defense is, if you can't score you can't win at this level."
Staying in contention early with the Wildcats, a kill by junior middle hitter Kerri Neville kept SUNY New Paltz within one, down 7-8. Johnson and Wales University came back with four unanswered points, making Giufre use his first timeout at 7-12.
The stoppage did not work to the Hawks advantage, as the two teams went back-and-forth, with the Wildcats on top, 17-11. SUNY New Paltz used its last timeout, in hopes of breaking up momentum.
Johnson and Wales University could not be stopped, as it continued to score thoroughly, taking the set 25-16, and the lead, 1-0.
The second set tied at four, an 8-2 run by the Wildcats pushed them in front, 12-6, and made Giufre use his first timeout of the set. Johnson and Wales University came out with four more unanswered points, sitting on top 16-6 and forcing the last Hawks timeout.
Continuing their prior success, the Wildcats kept pushing, taking the second set 25-11, and full control of the match at 2-0.
Staying in contention until the end, SUNY New Paltz grabbed an early lead in the third, when a kill by sophomore outside hitter Julie Greenspan put them in front, 5-4. In typical fashion, Johnson and Wales came through with a 7-0 run to take the lead back at 11-5, and cause the first Hawks timeout of the set.
The Wildcats continued to power through in the third, scoring in bunches to step in front by 10 at 22-12. They would eventually win the set, 25-13, and take the match 3-0 to move onto the next round.
The loss marks the end of a historic season for SUNY New Paltz, a team that earned its third-ever State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) title to gain a bid to its sixth NCAA tournament appearance. The Hawks graduate two seniors, senior setter Meredith Dignan, and senior outside hitter Taylor Cimillo.
"I'm so grateful that the young women on our team got to experience a championship season," Giufre said. "After last season's disappointing finish, they raised their level of expectations. I saw a greater determination each day, and the way they care about each other is special to be apart of."