PLATTSBURGH – The Plattsburgh State women's volleyball team pushed past SUNY Potsdam in the SUNYAC opener for both teams, Wednesday, at Memorial Hall, defeating its North Country rival by a 3-1 (25-11, 25-17, 20-25, 25-18) final in front of a lively crowd.
It marked the Cardinals' first win against the Bears since 2016 and their first victory against Potsdam at Memorial Hall since Sept. 18, 2004.
The victory was first-year head coach Kelsea Healis' first against a SUNYAC opponent.
After the two teams traded points early in the first set, Plattsburgh went on an 8-1 tear, and a service ace by Allyssa Rock staked the Cardinals to a 12-6 advantage.
Plattsburgh continued to score points in bunches, using a four-point surge to go up 16-7, a three-point run to lead 19-8 and another four-point stretch to take a 23-9 advantage. After Potsdam scored two straight points, a solo block by Payton Zophy and a Bear attacking error handed Plattsburgh State a 25-11 victory in the first.
The Cardinals started cruising in the second set during a six-point run that included two kills from senior opposite Kaitlyn Bjelko, and Bjelko's second termination of that stretch pinned the home team to a 10-3 lead.
Potsdam twice pulled within five points midway through the set, but four points on the strength of two kills from Jenn Braun and two Bear hitting miscues extended the Plattsburgh State advantage to 20-11.
The Bears did end up going on a 5-1 run to draw within 24-17, but a service error handed the Cardinals the set, 25-18.
Plattsburgh started out hot in the third, as a kill and an ace from Meghan O'Brien and a block assist by Braun and Alicia Fisher put the Cardinals out in front 4-1.
Potsdam wound up countering with five of the next six points to take the lead, and while Plattsburgh eventually recaptured the advantage and led by as many as three (12-9) following a Bjelko kill, the Bears kept inching closer and overtook the lead at 16-15 when Emme Price landed a kill.
Potsdam never trailed the rest of the set and forced a fourth set with a 25-20 win in the third.
Potsdam appeared poised to force a deciding set by its strong play early in the fourth, as Price put down a kill to give the Bears a 9-4 cushion.
Plattsburgh charged back behind the serve of O'Brien, however, scoring six straight points and taking the lead following a setting error by the Bears. The two teams went back and forth before the Cardinals used a solo block by Braun, two service aces by Emma Rivers and a Fisher kill to go up 15-12. Plattsburgh never trailed from that point forward, and Zophy eventually gave the Cardinals the 25-18 set victory with a kill on match point.
Plattsburgh hit .193 as a team and limited Potsdam to a .093 hitting percentage. The Cardinals finished with the upper hand in service aces (12-3), blocks (8-4.5) and digs (83-74) as well.
Zophy posted an 11-kill, 15-dig double-double, while O'Brien also reached double figures in both with 11 kills and 10 digs. O'Brien fashioned a .320 hitting percentage and served up three aces. Senior setter Olga Muka and Rivers dished out 21 and 16 assists, respectively, with Muka also notching a double-double with 13 digs. Shannon Fitzpatrick and Maddy Zophy defended 14 and 13 digs, respectively, while Braun reinforced the front row defensively with four total blocks (one solo, three assist). Rock and Fisher each finished with three block assists.
For Potsdam, Jessica Ader led a balanced attack with nine kills and added 17 digs, while Colleen Murphy distributed 25 assists. Nikki Ramirez and Ader tallied 19 and 17 digs, respectively, while Santara Hart notched three total blocks (one solo, two assist).
Plattsburgh moves to 5-3 overall, 1-0 in SUNYAC, with the win and next competes at the Union/Russell Sage Crosstown Challenge on Saturday, taking on Hartwick College at noon and Russell Sage College at 2 p.m. Potsdam falls to 2-3 overall, 0-1 in SUNYAC, with the loss and next competes at the Oswego State Invitational, opening up the event against Elmira College at 6 p.m. on Friday.