Captain Emma Rivers (left) and Head Coach Kelsea Healis (right) share a word between games Sept. 2. The team hasn’t had a home game since.
By Rebekah Riley
Plattsburgh Cardinals women’s volleyball started SUNYAC play last weekend, opening the season with two losses. It traveled to Brockport where it played the Golden Eagles Sept. 29, losing in four sets. The Cards then traveled to Geneseo Sept. 30, enduring another loss, this time in three sets.
Against the Eagles, the Cards played the first set taking a 16-25 loss. It came back in a tightly-contested second set, winning 30-28. In the third set, the Golden Eagles came back.
The Cardinals played this set back-and-forth, keeping the score close. Trailing 3-5, the Eagles pulled away, scoring five straight. Plattsburgh did its best to hold on. Facing a 12-19 deficit, a 7-1 Cardinals run brought the score to 19-20. Multiple Cardinal errors allowed Brockport to pull away again, taking the third set 22-25.
Brockport secured its first SUNYAC win in the fourth set, taking the Cards 14-25.
First-year Liya Girma had nine kills, senior Emma Rivers had two aces and 15 assists, sophomore Jeannette Ashong had four blocks and senior Payton Zophy had 38 digs.
Zophy’s defensive performance was rewarded with her career single-game high in digs and was honored with Cardinal of the Week by Plattsburgh State Athletics.
The Cardinals lost to the Geneseo Knights in the first set, 13-25. The Cards put up a fight, but lost the second set 31-33. Plattsburgh held a 31-30 advantage, but three straight Geneseo points put the Cardinals away. The Knights ran away with the third set, winning 14-25.
Zophy had the most digs with 21, Rivers had a total of 20 assists, first-year Katarina Wagner had two blocks, sophomore Bridget Ryan and Girma both had one ace and first-year Darby Collyear had eight kills.
This past weekend was a challenge for the Cardinals, but it was one that opened their eyes to a new type of gameplay.
“Although I was very impressed with how we played, it was our first introduction to that fast-set gameplay, and long rallies,” Zophy said.
The Cards didn’t think they would be starting off their conference play with two losses, however they haven’t lost confidence or motivation.
“It’s good that we started with them to see what the highest level competition is, and it showed us our potential as a team because we did take a set from Brockport, and we were super close to taking one from Geneseo” Zophy said.
Geneseo and Brockport aren’t easy competition. They’re both seasoned programs with particularly strong servers this season.
“Geneseo and Brockport are two very competitive teams. They’re typically either second or third in our conference. The fact that we almost took a second set from Brockport really just shows how far we’ve come as a program” Healis said.
Unless the Cardinals meet Geneseo or Brockport in the playoffs, this marks the last in-conference games against the SUNYAC rivals. The Knights and Golden Eagles announced its departure to the Empire 8 Aug. 21.
Healis regardless of the result, Healis is anticipating this weekend’s games.
“I’m excited to see us work harder around wins. Our game against Oswego should be a beautiful match. I’m excited to see us work hard to earn that one and, honestly, Cortland, I’m looking to see us compete and try to push and not roll over for them.” Healis said.
The past three weekends the Cards have been traveling for their games, and this is their first weekend back home.
“Having a home advantage definitely is nice. We don’t have to deal with traveling, like this past weekend we traveled six plus hours both ways. We are excited to get back in our gym and play our home games,” Rivers said.
Being in front of a home audience is added motivation.
“Having our fans there, having more family members there, having friends there, and just being in the gym where we play every day, and where we are more comfortable playing, I think we definitely do have an advantage of playing better,” Rivers said.
Today, Friday, Oct. 6, the Cardinals will be playing the Oswego Lakers at Memorial Hall at 6 p.m. Tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 7, the Cardinals will be playing the Cortland Red Dragons at Memorial Hall at 1 p.m. This will be an opportunity for Plattsburgh to further prove itself as a competitor in the SUNYAC.