BY ERIN MADDEN
In a match that had a lot of weight in terms of the conference standings, the Lady Barons rose to the occasion with a straight-set win against Mount Aloysius 25-19, 25-9, and 25-19. The Lady Barons move to 6-2 and remain tied for second place with Medaille with one match left.
“It was just a really good match from a passing perspective,” Head Coach Kelly Herrmann said. “We passed really well and, of course, the offense has a lot of opportunities when we are passing well.”
Senior setter/right side hitter Amy O’Keefe was primarily responsible for creating those offensive opportunities, transitioning to a 5-1 offense for the match due to the injury of sophomore setter Rachel Potopa. O’Keefe finished with 25 assists on the night.
“That was just a seamless transition,” Herrmann said. “Amy handled it very, very well. The hitters handled it well. Everybody was being very aggressive at the net.”
Both seniors were able to provide consistency for the Lady Barons in the transition with senior right side hitter Jackie Zucco moving to the back row in Potopa’s absence. Zucco finished the night with 13 digs.
“Jackie served very tough and played very good defense in the right-back position,” Herrmann said. “You would have never known that our team has played a 6-2 all season and, all of a sudden, we switched to a 5-1 for this match. The girls just handled it very, very well.”
Despite both the seniors’ play on Senior Night, their unspoken leadership had a strong impact on the match, giving the other girls guidance in the sudden offensive transition.
“If the seniors aren’t freaked out, if they are calm and relaxed, then everybody else follows suit,” Herrmann said. “That’s definitely what happened tonight.”
Nerves did not have an impact on sophomore middle hitter Ana Tolkach’s play. Tolkach has had a big impact over the past few matches with her serving and hitting, and she continued that consistency in this match with 10 kills and three service aces.
“In conference, Ana is leading the conference in hitting percentage,” Herrmann said. “To point out the good stats to all the girls is important, especially for a player like Ana. Her confidence is key, and she has no reason in the world not to be confident.”
With Medaille beating Pitt.-Bradford the same night, the Lady Barons now control their playoff future. But everything comes down to the last match.
“Ultimately, no matter what happens, we need to take care of our court,” Herrmann said. “Saturday will be a big match for us and we are looking forward to it.”
The Lady Barons will wrap up regular season play at home against Penn St.-Behrend on November 1 at 1 p.m.