POTSDAM -- The SUNY Potsdam volleyball team (14-8, 2-2 SUNYAC) defeated St. Lawrence (7-16) in a five set thriller on Tuesday night.
Freshman outside hitter Rachel Auerbach (Ashburn, Va. / Stone Bridge) had a season high 18 kills to lead the Bears attack in the 3-2 victory.
The first set was a fight from start to finish as both teams exchanged runs. The Saints took an early 7-3 to begin the contest. The Bears soon responded behind a big block by senior middle hitter Anne Fildes (Red Hook, N.Y. / Red Hook). Potsdam climbed back and took the lead late in the set. However, St. Lawrence converted on several points late in the game to win, 25-22.
Potsdam controlled the second set early, off the serving of junior setter Jenna Blujus (Baldwinsville, N.Y. / C.W. Baker). The Bears jumped to a quick 4-0 lead before the Saints called a timeout. The break in action slowed the Bears attack for only a moment. The Potsdam offense continued as the Bears used a late run to take the set, 25-20.
Both teams battled as neither could separate in beginning of the third game. St. Lawrence was able generated a five point run in the middle of the set to gain a 20-15 advantage. Potsdam clawed its way back into the game to take a 21-20 lead behind a big kill by sophomore outside hitter Tia Wright (Vestal, N.Y. / Vestal). The Saints halted the Bears run and claimed a hard fought third set, 28-26.
The long rallies by each team continued into the fourth set. The Saints found a rhythm early on to claim a 7-3 advantage over the Bears. Potsdam was able to generate momentum from senior libero Jill Dye (Middletown, N.Y. / Minisink Valley) late in the set to take a 21-18 lead over St. Lawrence. Auerbach added several key kills at the end of the game to give the Bears the 25-23 decision.
All the momentum was on the Bears side heading into the fifth set. Potsdam charged out to a commanding 8-3 lead and never looked back. The Bears held off the Saints to earn the 15-9 victory. Auerbach finished with 18 kills and four digs. Wright finished second on the team with 13 kills. Blujus tied a season high with 42 assists. Sophomore defensive specialist Gabby Arana (Williston Park, N.Y. / Herricks) and Dye each contributed 14 digs,
“I thought we fought back hard in the match,” said Head Coach Steve Pike.
“Our entire team has worked their butt off so that we would have a much deeper bench this year. That was evident with Tia when she came off the bench and had 13 kills tonight. Aliza helped us defensively in the back row and Rachel was scoring really well for us on the outside.”
Coach Pike is very pleased with how his team has worked and improved during the season.
“This is one of the hardest working teams and staff that I have had the privilege of working with. They spend more time in the gym than anyone else and that really showed tonight” said Pike.
The Bears travel to the Union Invitational on Friday, Oct. 5 to take on Skidmore College in their first match at 6 p.m.