November 9, 2013

PSU volleyball advances to SUNYAC semifinals


---- — NEW PALTZ — We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere.

That seemed to be the message sent by the Plattsburgh State volleyball team, as the No. 4 seed Cardinals ran over No. 5 seed SUNY Potsdam in a quarterfinal match at the SUNYAC Volleyball Championship Tournament at the Hawk Center on Friday night.

Not having played in this particular tournament since 2003, the Cardinals eased into the semifinals thanks to a .306 team attack percentage in the 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-19) triumph over their North Country rivals.

With the win, Plattsburgh State improved to 17-13 – ensuring the squad an above-.500 finish for the first time since the 1998 campaign. The Bears’ saw their season come to an end with a 15-16 mark.

Coming out of the gates looking to spring the upset, the Bears collected the first two points of the match thanks to a pair of termination from Liza Fields. That lead, though, was one of only three SUNY Potsdam would possess through the course of the one-sided bout.

Plattsburgh State responded by embarking on a 9-1 run that began with two kills off the hand of sophomore Laura Diehl. The Bears captured the next point before the Cardinals reeled off seven straight which featured two kills from team captain Rosi Cummings, one more from Diehl and a service ace by the 6-2 middle hitter.

Employing a rally of their own, the Bears crept back within one point, 10-9, before the Cardinals began to feed their third scoring option in junior Maggie Schrantz. A trio of kills from the Buffalo product accounted for half of the points during a 6-1 surge by the Cardinals which gave the higher seed a six-point advantage.

With its offense firing on all cylinders, Plattsburgh State saw its lead increase to as many as eight points during the frame. Back-to-back attack errors by the Bears proved to be the last two scores required for the Cardinals to take a 1-0 lead with a 25-17 set one victory.

Armed with its lead, the Cardinals didn’t relent in the least through the course of the second frame. Diehl and Schrantz blasted down one kill each as the Cardinals opened up a 5-1 lead in the early stages of the second set.

On the opposite side of the net, the Bears were beginning to unravel at an astonishing pace. Six of the first 10 points Plattsburgh State scored in the set were due to a multitude of SUNY Potsdam attack errors, bad sets and service errors.

Once again, the Bears went on a small run of their own to cut Plattsburgh State’s lead to just one, 12-11, but the Cardinals had the answer once again. Assailing the Bears from all angles, four players hammered down terminations while Schrantz added yet another service ace to the Cardinals’ total during an 8-2 surge that further demoralized the Bears.

Seemingly nothing could slow down the Cardinals’ potent attack strategy, as the squad took a 2-0 lead thanks to terminations from Schrantz, junior Meghan Clifford and two from Diehl which wrapped up the second frame via a 25-18 tally.

Try as SUNY Potsdam might to try and force a fourth set, Plattsburgh State had an answer for everything the Bears threw at it during a back-and-forth third frame. The Bears took their final lead of the match after Schrantz and sophomore Jeanette Braun committed consecutive attack errors to make the score 15-14, but another kill by Cummings coupled with an attack error by the Bears gave the Cardinals the lead the rest of the way.

Leading 20-19, Plattsburgh State closed out their quarterfinal victory with a 5-0 surge that saw Cummings and Braun join forces for a block that also represented one of four Potsdam miscues during the match-clinching surge.

Cummings and Diehl finished tied for match-high honors with 11 kills each while Schrantz added 10 of her own. Diehl also added a pair of blocks assists and two of the Cardinals’ six service aces to the final tally. Senior captain Amanda Wickers added a team-high 10 digs for the Cardinals while Kristen Marchisotto contributed a team-high 21 assists to the cause.

Fields had nine kills to pace Potsdam while Lauren Manzo notched a match-high 26 assists. Dakota Pruiss added a match-high 11 digs for the Bears, who hit just .168.

The Cardinals will continue their run in the SUNYAC Tournament on Saturday night when they tangle with host institution and No. 1 overall seed New Paltz. The semifinal battle is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.