GENESEO, N.Y. – The SUNY Geneseo women's volleyball teams opens the 2018 campaign next Friday (Aug. 31) at St. Lawrence. Here are the top six things you need to know about the Knights heading into the season.
1. GENESEO LOOKS TO MAKE ITS THIRD-STRAIGHT POSTSEASON APPEARANCE.
The Knights qualified for the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Tournament and advanced to the semifinals for the second year in a row last fall. Geneseo (23-11) clinched the third seed after finishing with a 7-2 conference record and shutout visiting Cortland, 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-16) for its first win over the Red Dragons in 11 all-time postseason meetings. It was also Geneseo's first postseason home match since 1998. Upended by second-seeded Fredonia, 3-0, in the semifinals, the Knights will once again be in the hunt for their first championship match appearance since 2006.
2. GRACE CERGOL KNOWS HOW TO HIT A VOLLEYBALL.
Junior outside hitter Grace Cergol returns after a sophomore campaign punctuated with honorable-mention All-America honors from the AVCA. Only the second All-American in program history (Kate Barth '05 – honorable mention in 2004), she was also voted the SUNYAC Player of the Year and a first-team all-conference pick after finishing the season ranked seventh nationally and first in the SUNYAC with 4.34 kills per set. She also stood 10th in the conference with 3.55 digs per set to finish as the only player in the league to rank in the top-10 in both categories. Named the SUNYAC Player of the Week a conference-high four times, Cergol enters the season 12th in the Geneseo record books with 907 kills and 15th with 860 digs. Her 486 kills were the 12th-highest total in Division III last fall and were the third-best single season total in program history.
3. SAM MENDELSOHN ISN'T SHORT ON DEFENSE.
Junior libero Sam Mendelsohn is back after being named SUNYAC Tri-Defensive Player of the Year last fall. The first-team all-conference pick led the SUNYAC with 4.82 digs per set while compiling double-digit dig totals in 29 of her 32 appearances. Her 550 total digs were also the highest mark in the SUNYAC and were the sixth-highest single-season total in program history. Finishing two digs short of 1,000 for her career, Mendelsohn's 998 stand as the 11th highest total in the Knights' record book.
4. THE KNIGHTS ARE IN GOOD HANDS WITH LONE SENIOR EMILY AST.
Senior setter Emily Ast returns as the only senior on the 2018 roster. Voted a SUNYAC Second-Team All-Star last year, she ranked second in the league with 9.89 assists per set, while her 1,128 assists led the conference, were the 16th-highest total in the nation and seventh-highest single-season total ever by a Geneseo player. Moving into second place on the Knights' career assist list during the campaign, she enters the season with 2,745 assists.
5. ABBY MAY BE ONE OF THE TOP PLAYERS IN THE SUNYAC.
Junior outside hitter Abby May is back after landing third-team honors from the SUNYAC. She finished 12th in the conference and second for the Knights behind Cergol with 2.31 kills per set while her 252 kills were the 11th-highest total in the league. She totaled a career-high 18 kills to go along with nine digs in the Knights' victory over Plattsburgh (Sept. 23) and also added 12 kills in the squad's sweep of Cortland in the SUNYAC Quarterfinals.
6. GENESEO WILL BE ROAD WARRIORS TO START THE SEASON (2018 Schedule).
Second-year head coach Hunter Drews and the Knights will hit the road for 14-straight matches to start the season, opening with four matches at the North Country Season Opener in Canton, N.Y. (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) followed by three at Ithaca's South Hill Classic (Sept. 7-8). After a midweek trip to play Rochester (Sept. 12), Geneseo will make a short trip north for four matches at the Nazareth Invitational (Sept. 14-15) before taking a long trip north to Potsdam (Sept. 21-22) for the first of three SUNYAC Pool Plays of the fall. After closing the month with a match at Hamilton (Sept. 26), the Knights will host Alfred (Oct. 2) in their home-opener before heading to three-time defending SUNYAC Champion Brockport for another round of pool play (Oct. 5-6). After Houghton pays a visit to Schrader Gymnasium (Oct. 9), Geneseo will travel to Massachusetts for matches with Clark, Wellesley and Plymouth State (Oct. 12-13). The Knights will host the final SUNYAC Pool Play of the season (Oct. 19-20) before finishing the regular season with three matches at the Frostburg (Md.) Quad (Oct. 26-27) to prepare for the SUNYAC Tournament, which begins with quarterfinals on Oct. 30 and culminates with the semifinals (Nov. 2) and championship (Nov. 3).