Offensive playmakers leading volleyball

The Oswego State volleyball team has enjoyed much success this season, currently standing in fourth place in the SUNYAC conference with an impressive 14-6 record.
The Lakers have especially had success on the offensive side. Head coach J.J. O’Connell says that his team’s improvement in that area has been a big reason for the team’s overall performance.
“We really focused on our offense last spring,” O’Connell said. “We knew we were going to need to pick it up little. It’s just something we worked hard on improving.”
The Lakers’ strong start offensively is due to the help of offensive playmakers this season. According to O’Connell, these playmakers have included Ariel Murawski, Megan Russell and Kelsey Dillon.
“The three of them have been a vital part to our success, no doubt,” he said. “They just play great together.”
With Murawski being a freshman, Russell a junior and Dillon the senior captain, the trio certainly varies in age and experience. But O’Connell touched on the fact that despite the age the three have great chemistry on the floor.
“They may be different ages, but they all have experience in what we’ve been doing,” he said. “Each of them have their own skill sets, but they complement each other well because they are practicing together and learning the same system.”
Murawski is one player whose style of play has caught the eye of the coach, especially because of her age.
“She plays such an aggressive style,” O’Connell said. “I think she will get even stronger once she gains more experience at his level. [She] definitely has a bright future.”
Murawski has had noticeable success in her freshman campaign. She touched on how her first season at Oswego State has been positive.
“It’s been really fun,” she said. “I like all of the girls on the team, I think there’s a lot of chemistry there and we have a lot of fun.”
Russell is another part of the dynamic offensive trio and attributes her success in her junior season to working on her skills in the offseason.
“I came into this season wanting to put different shots into my offense,” Russell said. “I’ve been working on a lot of my off-speed shots as well as attacking the corners, so I think that has helped me offensively.”
The junior middle blocker has had a standout season, but really impressed in this year’s Oswego State Tournament, where the Lakers swept and she won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“That was great,” Russell said of the tournament sweep. “It’s the only home tournament we have, so it was great to put everything out there in front of a home crowd.”
O’Connell praised Russell’s performance this year, saying that she just keeps getting better with experience.
“Megan came in as an excellent hitter to start with,” he said. “It’s great to see the kind of player she has become. She’s an even better hitter now.”
To round out the dynamic offensive trio, Dillon is a player that not only has experience and skill, but also leadership. Dillon recognizes her role in her team’s success this season and what she has to for it to continue.
“I think we’ve just been good at bouncing back and having strong performances,” Dillon said. “I know that it’s my job as the senior captain to get the team going, so when we’re struggling I always try to pick my team up.”
O’Connell sees that Dillon has developed into a strong leader, and notices her improvements over the years as well.
“Kelsey has really stepped into the leadership role,” O’Connell said. “She has developed nicely over the past couple of seasons as well. The shots she can bring to the table have been just really good.”
As a leader, Dillon had nothing but great things to say about her teammates Russell and Murawski.
“Megan has really come a long way,” she said. “I remember her as a freshman and she has developed into a really good player. Ariel is really developed for a freshman. She holds her own and she’s a vital part to this team.”
With this offensive trio and a team with this kind of chemistry, O’Connell looks to finish off this 2015 season strong.
“It is just really nice to see the team coming together like they have,” he said. “I’m excited to see this offense carry us to the finish line.”
Like they did during the Oswego State Tournament, the Lakers have a chance to prove themselves at a pair of upcoming SUNYAC pool tournaments.
Next weekend in Plattsburgh and then two weeks later in Geneseo are both great opportunities for this trio to once again lead thieir team to victory.