It was a good night for the Oswego State women’s volleyball team on Tuesday, as the Lakers defeated SUNYIT, 3-1, to go along with raising over $1,100 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research.
The Lakers hosted the Wildcats in a match that served as both Senior Night and the annual Dig Pink game. Oswego State honored its three seniors, Rachel Rossi, Jess Isgro and Liz Crouch, in front of a large crowd before play got started.
Although it was Senior Night, it was junior Katie van Kessel who stole the show. Van Kessel had a career-high 24 kills. The Lakers improved to 9-16 overall on the season and the Wildcats dropped to 17-9.
The Max Ziel Gymnasium was decked out with pink balloons and streamers, as players from both teams wore pink and white jerseys to pay respect to the charitable cause.
"When we said we were going to have the Dig Pink here this year every single person, doesn’t matter senior or whatever, was really into it," head coach Pat Hanlon said.
The Lakers hit the streets a few weeks prior to the Dig Pink game to see if any local businesses would like to make donations and people seemed to be more than willing to give anything they could.
"We went around Oswego getting all these companies to help sponsor and help donate stuff, and a lot of people were really willing," Isgro said. "It just made happy me to see how many people actually care about it."
Looking to avenge a loss at the hands of SUNYIT 10 days earlier, the Lakers came out strong in the first set. Isgro opened the match with a kill sent down the right corner. It was a back-and-forth affair early on in the set with the Lakers finding themselves down by two, 17-15.
With the help of a few Wildcat errors and two kills from van Kessel, the Lakers reeled off six straight points to go up 21-17. SUNYIT came back to tie the match at 24, but Oswego State took the next two points and secured the first set win, 26-24.
In the second set, Oswego State took a commanding 19-10 lead. SUNYIT came roaring back, taking 10 of the next 12 points, cutting the Lakers’ lead to just one. The Lakers quickly regained momentum and took four of the final five points, taking the set, 25-21.
The Lakers had some extra energy going into the contest because of its importance which allowed the players to focus on taking home a victory.
"When you put a cause on a game everyone steps it up a little bit," Rossi said, "The fact that it was Senior Night and we’re doing this for a cause, it just brought the best out of everyone."
The third set had a different feel to it than the previous two, as the Wildcats controlled the momentum and used it to their advantage. SUNYIT took a 17-9 lead with help from Juleah Vedder who tallied seven of her 24 kills in the third frame.
The Lakers showed some resiliency and came all the way back to tie the set at 20 as Isgro and van Kessel had a combined nine kills in the set. The Wildcats were able to stave off the Lakers’ attack and came away with a 25-23 victory to force a fourth set.
Oswego State jumped out on top early, taking a 4-0 lead in the fourth set on a kill by Isgro with the assist from Stephanie Olsheski. The sophomore setter, Olsheski, had a game-high 50 assists in the Lakers’ victory.
The lead would not be relinquished by Oswego State in the fourth set, although the Wildcats cut the lead to one, at 16-15. Five of the Lakers’ final seven points came on kills by van Kessel, including the final two points of the night.
Van Kessel finished with a .435 hitting percentage along with 12 digs and her 24 kills.
"She was very impressive tonight," Hanlon said of van Kessel. "I hope she keeps her hitting up over the weekend, that would be phenomenal."
Crouch and Rossi led the defense with 17 and 16 digs, respectively. Sabrina Sutton finished with nine kills and .429 hitting percentage en-route to the Lakers’ victory.
"It was a big win, on a big night, for a big cause," Rossi said.
The Lakers will host SUNYAC Pool Play this weekend as they look to improve on a big home-court win.