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Women’s Volleyball hopes growing pains turn into growth

2018 Buffalo State Volleyball Preview

Maria+Roberts%2C+who+enters+her+eighth+season+as+head+coach+of+the+Volleyball+team%2C+is+the+program%27s+longest+tenured+coach+
Maria Roberts, who enters her eighth season as head coach of the Volleyball team, is the program's longest tenured coach

Maria Roberts, who enters her eighth season as head coach of the Volleyball team, is the program's longest tenured coach

Buffalo State Sports Information

Buffalo State Sports Information

Maria Roberts, who enters her eighth season as head coach of the Volleyball team, is the program's longest tenured coach

Francis Boeck, Managing/Sports Editor

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Starting several freshmen – and sophomores a year later – is not an ideal situation for any team.

But on the flipside, when those players become upperclassmen they will have a ton of experience.

That’s the case for the SUNY Buffalo State Volleyball team.

As they return most of their starters from the past two seasons, in which they went a combined 13-68, the Bengals hope that the experience can translate to wins in 2018.

“Patience is definitely a virtue,” said Maria Roberts, who begins her eighth season as head coach of the Women’s Volleyball team. “I’m looking forward to having a more experienced team because having a young team is challenging. There’s a lot that has gone into teaching them the ins and outs of the sport. The players have learned how to play at the college level and the consistency that you need in practice and games to get W’s.”

Buffalo State went 7-22 (2-7 SUNYAC) in 2017, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

The main reason for the Bengals’ recent struggles were due to the fact that most of the current junior class, which makes up half of the roster, had to step into the starting lineup as freshman.

“I knew when I came into the program that it was going to be a few years of development,” junior captain, middle/right hitter Eimile O’Brien said. “I was prepared and ready to work for that and many of the girls that are still here have that same mentality. The last two years have taught us that you can’t just walk into the gym and expect to win games.”

With another year of experience under their belts the Bengals will look to be more defensive-minded team in 2018.

“My number one goal is to win games in the back of the court this year,” Roberts said. “I’m really focusing on our defense.”

That means a lot of responsibility will be put on the shoulders of junior libero Brittney Valentine (395 digs) and lone senior, defensive specialist Victoria Rigler (168 digs and 19 assists), who is also a captain.

“It’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Rigler admitted, “but I like it. I like being that one person to look up to on the court. I’m excited about that and my senior season.”

A major focus for the Bengals this preseason has been focusing on taking what they’ve done in drills to the gameplay portion of practice.

“‘Drill in skills play’,” Roberts said. “A lot of times you get into a drill and you do it great and then you go through like an ozone layer and play six-on-six and it goes out the window. That’s 90 percent of the battle.”

O’Brien had a second-best 184 kills and led the team with 57 blocks in 2017.

“She’s a workhorse and leads by example,” Roberts said of O’Brien. “She has a lot of skill and talent and always has a positive attitude.”

Other key pieces from the junior class include right side Maria Gelyon (95 kills, 56 blocks) and Brooke Latour (22 aces).

Sophomore Tyler Reis will be stepping into the starting setter position for the Bengals.

Roberts is excited about the incoming freshman class especially outside hitters Jordan McKenna and Alena McKelvey along with defensive specialist Destinee Norman.

Buffalo State loses starters MH Allie Hardford and MH/OH Lauren Hansen.

Now that they have a more veteran squad, the Bengals have that sights set on a SUNYAC playoff berth in 2018.

“Our expectations are to keep going up,” O’Brien said. “Since we got here we’ve been going forward we can’t take any steps back.”

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Women’s Volleyball hopes growing pains turn into growth