Volleyball Playoff Preview: Potsdam prepares for Plattsburgh in SUNYAC Tournament
If Friday's SUNYAC volleyball playoff tilt between fifth-seeded SUNY Potsdam and fourth-seeded Plattsburgh State resembles either of the prior two meetings between the teams this season, Bears head coach Josh Stokes knows he's in for an emotionally-charged, back-and-forth tug of war that will bring out the best from each of the schools.
Each time, it went the full distance of five sets.
Each time, the result could have easily swung in the other direction.
"In words, it's a mutual respect from both sides," Stokes said. "We enjoy playing them just as much as they enjoy playing us. Both are trying to outdo each other and it's good because it's a good, competitive volleyball atmosphere."
A playoff match seems fitting that it will decide the season series as the teams split the regular season series at 1-1.
Friday's first round SUNYAC Tournament match against Plattsburgh at New Paltz at 6 p.m. will decide which team gets to advance to Saturday's semifinals at 6 p.m. with the top-seeded Hawks.
Back on September 6, it was Potsdam (15-15 overall, 5-4 SUNYAC) who prevailed with a 20-25, 25-14, 25-18, 24-26, 15-9 marathon victory at Maxcy Fieldhouse.
Senior setter Jenna Blujus (Baldwinsville, N.Y. / C.W Baker) was instrumental in that win as she doled out 25 assists, 18 digs, and 17 kills.
Graduate student outside hitter/right side Rosi Cummings (Plattsburgh, N.Y. / Beekmantown) led the Cardinals (16-14 overall, 6-3 SUNYAC) with a team-high 13 kills.
Plattsburgh was able to return the favor with a 21-25, 25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 15-9 triumph on Oct. 12 in Potsdam.
Cumming was once again at the charge of the forefront with 18 kills, 17 digs and four blocks. Sophomore middle hitter Laura Diehl (Manorville, N.Y. / Eastport) also had a big game on the net with 14 kills and seven blocks.
Blujus was again a big factor, as she registered 24 assists, 23 digs and 13 kills.
Two players who were much more visible in the second meeting was senior outside hitter Dakota Pruiss (Wallkill, N.Y. / Wallkill) as she racked up 10 kills and junior outside hitter Liza Fields (Duanesburg, N.Y. / Duanesburg), who also had 10 kills.
A key for the Bears will be how they strategize around the net. Plattsburgh held a hefty 16-3 advantage in blocks during the match that they won. When Potsdam won, it held a 57-35 advantage in total kills.
Stokes also feels that cutting down on the amount of unforced errors will be as important as anything.
"Take care of the ball," Stokes said. "Serving and passing are the most important things for us. It's either been our demise or our success. That's we are hoping for-that our best volleyball can come out not just on Friday, but for the whole weekend. It will be very difficult to win the SUNYAC, but it can happen."
An added positive note for Potsdam is that it has done well on neutral courts this season with a 9-2 record in such scenarios.