Saturday, January 16, 2021

Youth helping change program culture

Only eight games into their 2015 season, the Plattsburgh State women’s volleyball team is only one win away from matching last year’s total of six wins.

The Cardinals have won four of their last five matches, two of which led them to a second-place finish in their home tournament, the Best Western-Ground Round Cardinal Classic this past weekend.

PSUC won its first two matches of the tournament, easily defeating Elms and Lasell College in straight sets Friday and Saturday.

The Cards dropped three straight sets in the championship game against SUNY Poly, but their two earlier wins secured them the second best tournament record.

The second place finish is the same place PSUC finished in last season, but head coach Jake Bluhm believes they were up against a tougher field this year, and though they couldn’t secure the top spot, they definitely performed better.

“I think we put in a really good effort,” Bluhm said. “Lasalle is definitely better than their record indicates and SUNY Poly caught us off guard, and we are just not there yet with our consistency and we do know we could have performed better.”

Sophomore opposite setter Miranda Scheffer agreed with her coach that the team could have improved but felt that the effort the team put forward this year easily trumped last season.

“We definitely had more energy, were more focused and doing a lot of things better,” Scheffer said. “We were going after balls we wouldn’t have and I feel overall our team is a lot stronger than it was last year.”

Bluhm and his team are putting forward an increased effort this season to change the culture of PSUC volleyball. A culture surrounded by a reputation of losing.

Though the process is obviously not going to be immediate, the Cards are an extremely young team, and it would seem that the effort being put in practice and games, as well as a dominant underclassmen core, has the program on the correct track towards a more successful, winning oriented culture.

Sophomore libero Jordynne Ales, who has been crucial to the Cards success, explained how a young team performing as the Cards are can be good news for a program looking to set forth in a winning direction.

“We have mostly sophomores and freshmen, we are still getting used to our training and how our coaches want us to perform,” Ales said. “As we continue to come together and become more cohesive with the skills our coaches want I think we are going to be really good and build this program up a lot.”

The Cardinals have not yet entered the tough part of their schedule — SUNYAC — play, so the full capabilities of the team have yet to be put on display. PSUC has three more matches to prepare themselves for what Bluhm calls, “an extremely competitive league from top to bottom.”

Email Bailey Carlin at sports@cardinalpointsonline.com

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