The Oswego State women’s volleyball team was clicking on all cylinders against Alfred University on Saturday afternoon, as the Lakers cruised to a 3-1 victory at Max Ziel Gymnasium.
The Lakers improved their record to 6-13 on the year with a total team effort, lead by co-captains Jess Isgro and Katie van Kessel. The duo accounted for 25 of the Lakers’ 42 kills on the day, coming up with big plays to secure the win.
Isgro, a senior, and van Kessel, a junior each posted a double-double in digs and kills. Isgor finished the game with 13 digs and 13 kills. Van Kessel had 18 digs and 12 kills. Senior Liz Crouch also posted 18 digs on the day, as she controlled the back court from the libero position.
Despite winning in four sets, the Lakers had their hands full with Alfred, as the Saxons refused to go quietly and continued to force rallies, giving Oswego State their money’s worth in each set.
In the first set the Lakers found themselves down 14-9, but were able to grind it out and tie the game at 23. With the game tied, sophomore Stephanie Olsheski set up Isgro for a thunderous kill down the left sideline, giving the Lakers the advantage and a chance to close out the first set. Crouch did not waste any time as she sent an ace into the back left corner, putting the Lakers on top with a 25-23 win and a 1-0 set lead that would not be relinquished.
The Lakers got off to a quick start in the second set as Crouch reeled off three consecutive aces, helping Oswego State to an early cushion. The lead got as big as seven for the Lakers midway through the set, but the Saxons managed to cut into the lead. The Lakers saw their lead shrink to four, but closed out the set in impressive fashion, capped off by a kill from junior Morgan Grimes to seal the 25-19 second set win.
Oswego State appeared to be in cruise control heading into the third set, but Alfred had other ideas. The Saxons seemed to have some extra pep as they tried to keep their hopes of picking up a road victory alive. It was all Alfred early on, as Paige Jensen recorded one of her team leading 13 kills on the afternoon to put the Saxons up 13-5.
Pat Hanlon, the Oswego State head coach, liked the effort put forth by her team, but sensed a change in their play as the third set began.
"I think they came out fired up and then I think they let up a little bit coming into the third game thinking that we’re up two games to nothing," Hanlon said. "Then of course a team like that (Alfred) is going to take it to you."
The Lakers were able to muster a comeback and slash the Alfred lead to just two after a long rally was ended by a big kill from van Kessel. The score was 19-17 with the Saxons in front, but the Lakers had the momentum. Oswego State fought off a match point with a kill from Isgro, and then had a match point of their own after a kill by Olsheski with a 26-25 lead. Alfred was able to win the next three points and force a fourth set, capped off by a service ace by Chelsea Hall, giving the Saxons a 28-26 set win.
The Lakers may have surrendered the third set, but Hanlon liked what she saw from her team down the stretch.
"They did a really nice job getting momentum at the end of the third game and I think that built their confidence back up to know that they could come out strong in the fourth game and take it," Hanlon said.
Oswego State took the fourth set with relative ease as van Kessel and Isgro each recorded three kills in the 25-15 set win. Hanlon has grown accustomed to big performances out of van Kessel and Isgro who lead the team in kills.
"They are our go-to-girls and when they’re on we do really well, so I was glad to see that they were both hitting well today," Hanlon said.
"We got a lot more home games coming up so I think the fact that they feel the confidence of winning at home will help them going into the rest of the season," Hanlon said.
The Lakers will play host at the Oswego State Invitational this weekend.