Plattsburgh State volleyball used its extended time off to improve on its flaws this season.

The Cardinals dropped their first three SUNYAC matches this season, and PSUC will face Buffalo, New Paltz and Brockport this weekend at a tournament hosted by Brockport.

Large periods of time without games could sometimes hurt teams with the boredom of practice slowing their pace.
The Cards have tried to avoid this, and head coach Jake Bluhm said he believes the time off did more good than bad. The Cards could have been more mentally tough or communicated more effectively at times, but he emphasized that his squad responded well and improved.

“I think they are a pretty close-knit group,” Bluhm said. “So many practices in a row can get boring at times, but the girls have shown a strong mental toughness and kept focus.”

This large period of time with no travel and strictly practices has also given the Cards time to target specific problems within their game and improve upon them.

Junior middle hitter Emily Miller, who is second on the team in kills this season with 96, identified some of the places she believes the team improved.

“It has given us time to work on things that we haven’t been doing wrong, but not doing very well,” Miller said. “We have worked a lot on serve-receive and defense, which are definitely two of our weaker points.”

The Cards have managed to be competitive in almost every match of the season, but have had a hard time closing out close sets and, in-turn, matches. Defense and serve-receive are two issues that, if fixed, should allow them a much larger chance for success.

Freshman outside hitter Jordynne Ales has flown relatively under the radar so far this season, but she is someone Bluhm believes can make a big impact this weekend. Ales conveyed that the time off between matches has allowed the players to rest their nerves a bit and focus on what is important — winning.

“I think we are a little bit more relaxed,” Ales said. “We are all less stressed and definitely will be more focused on the game.”

This attitude is important for the Cards’ post season chances. PSUC has only six in-conference matches remaining, so to get its SUNYAC record higher, the team will need a few wins.

Based on the attitudes of the coaching staff, returning to good standing in the conference with successful matches seems possible.

“We are always confident.” Bluhm said. “We are going to take some of the things from the last round and practices and see if we can win a couple matches.”

Email Bailey Carlin at bailey.carlin@cardinalpointsonline.com.

<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/bailey-carlin/" rel="tag">Bailey Carlin</a>