First-year transfer easing through transition from club to Div. III

Since transferring from University at Albany this past year, Shauna O’Flaherty has surprised many here at Oswego State with her strong play so far this season. This is O’Flaherty’s sophomore year, but her first as a Div. III volleyball player with Oswego State.

O’Flaherty played first for Albany’s club team last season, though she was recruited by many SUNY schools such as SUNY Morrisville and SUNY Cortland to play Div. III. O’Flaherty played three years of varsity volleyball at Walter Panas High School.

During that time, she was named All-Section, All-County, and All-League. She was even a state finalist in 2015. Even with a stellar high school resume and Div. III schools trying to recruit her, O’Flaherty was more interested in going to a bigger school like University at Albany.

“I did have a few schools looking at me, but I kind of wanted to go to a bigger school at that point, so I decided to do club instead,” O’Flaherty said.

Even though she had fun playing club at University at Albany, she decided it was time to transfer after her freshman year. The main reason she wanted to come to Oswego State was because of the broadcasting program.

“Volleyball wasn’t really the reason I wanted to transfer. It was more for the school,” said O’Flaherty. “They have a business in broadcasting program, so that really interested me.”

Although she came to Oswego State primarily for the broadcasting MBA program, O’Flaherty still wanted to play volleyball at a high level. She liked how playing at Oswego State would be more of a commitment. Once she became interested in Oswego State, O’Flaherty reached out to head coach J.J. O’Connell.

“She sent me videos, so I had an idea of some of her skill sets,” O’Connell said. “I knew she could pass pretty well, but I think her offense has far surpassed anything that I had expected.”

O’Flaherty figured that since Oswego State was Div. III in volleyball, there would be a chance that she could come on and play. She said the transition process onto the team was smooth and that all the players and coaches were very welcoming to her.

“Once I became interested in the [Oswego State], I reached out to them because I thought since it’s Div. III, I would have a possibility of playing here,” O’Flaherty said. “It all went smoothly, [McConnell] was really nice about it. He was very welcoming and very informative of what to expect if I came here.”

As a transfer student, O’Flaherty knew it would be tough getting to know people, but her teammates have been very welcoming to her.

“They’re [teammates] all really super nice. They’re all very friendly and welcoming,” O’Flaherty said. “As a transfer, it’s kind of hard to come into it. Being a sophomore, there’s already a group of friends, but they’re all very welcoming and inclusive.”

O’Flaherty has wasted no time making a big impact on the team. She is second on the team with 134 kills and second in points with 171. Coming from a situation where she has not played Div. III before, nobody really knew what to expect from O’Flaherty, but O’Connell is very pleased with her play.

“[O’Flaherty]’s great,” O’Connell said. “She’s a much stronger blocker than I would have expected and she’s really good about reading the hitter. She’s got little things to work on still, but she’s been pretty stable.”

Last year’s team struggled with ball control, so O’Connell knew coming in that O’Flaherty’s skill there would help the team out a lot.

“Some of our ball control issues we had last year, I knew Shauna was going to address some of those with her great passing,” O’Connell said.

O’Flaherty was not expecting the amount of success she has had the season either. Coming into the season, she did not know what to expect. She just wanted the opportunity to go out there and play.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming in,” O’Flaherty said. “I was hoping to play, and that’s all I really wanted, just to practice and be a part of something. To come in, play and do well with the team is definitely a good thing.”

Photo: Cole Parzych | The Oswegonian