The Plattsburgh State volleyball team is ready to tackle the most important stretch of its young season with its first in-conference games.
The Cardinals, who are entering this weekend’s conference tournament at Oswego with a record of 4-6 and coming off a two-game losing streak, will face Geneseo, Oswego and Fredonia over a two-day span as they enter SUNYAC play.
Geneseo is looking to be the toughest test of the weekend. The Knights have gone 13-2 with their only losses of the season coming against Canton and Clarkson. PSUC has also lost to Canton this season in a 3-0 shutout on Sept. 16th.
The Cards have found themselves hovering between success and failure so far this season, and this tournament has the ability to propel the squad forward or leave them behind.
Head coach Jake Bluhm said his squad understands just how crucial this weekend is.
“The younger girls have not experienced these types of big matches yet,” Bluhm said. “But the importance of these matches has been explained to the entire team.”
Senior captain Maggie Schrantz said these matches have the biggest impact on the rest of the season.
“In-conference matches are very important,” Schrantz said. “The only matches that truly count when postseason comes around are the conference matches.”
Bluhm recognizes that participation in the playoffs is contingent on a team’s record against fellow SUNYAC conference teams.
“We want to be competitive in our conference and we want to make the postseason,” Bluhm said.
“They are very important.”
Even with the understanding of how important these matches are, Bluhm and his team are still confident. He feels that if the Cards work, play, and push one another, it will lead them to a couple of victories.
Schrantz once again held a similar opinion to her coach.
“None of the three teams that we will be playing gave us a problem last year,” Schrantz said. “I think that they are all beatable.”
Last season, PSUC defeated both Oswego and Geneseo.
Bluhm said one way his team can improve their chances of being successful is through maintaining steady ball control.
“Once we get our ball control down, we can get our weapons involved and come away with a couple of victories,” Bluhm said.
This issue of ball control may have found its solution, however, as Bluhm said sophomore libero Jackie Mariotti has potential to be a big help in that department.
“I’m confident that I can be the one to provide ball control and defense to my team.” Mariotti said. “We’re going to give it everything we have out there to come home with a victory.”
The Cards’ next five matches are all against conference opponents, and Schrantz sees the three this weekend as a good first step into conference play.
“I think that it is to our advantage that we will be starting with these teams to get out the jitters that come with playing our first conference matches,” she said.
Email Bailey Carlin at email@example.com.
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