Women's Volleyball Team On The Rise Following Strong Season

The Geneseo women’s volleyball team got off to a record-breaking start to the 2014 campaign, including wins in 10 of its first 11 matches. Head coach Jen Salmon and the Knights took another step forward with a strong core of players that will be returning next season. Using three of her players that are also doing remarkable things off the court, here is a quick glimpse into the caliber of players Coach Salmon has on her team. 

This past fall, Geneseo Women’s Volleyball opened the season with a 10-1 record for the first time in school history, including wins in our first eight matches. Our only loss during that stretch was to 17th-ranked Clarkson. 

During the season, we also beat conference-rival Cortland for the first time since 1985.  The match against the Red Dragons demonstrated the determination this team has. Trailing 2-1 after three sets, we won the fourth to tie the score, 2-2, and force a deciding fifth set. Trailing, 14-11, we fought off three consecutive match points before clinching the victory.  

While we didn’t achieve our goal of winning the SUNYAC Championship, 2014 was a stepping stone on the way to a greater level of success. Seeing how far we have come while overcoming adversity, and the commitment and sacrifice it took, I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished. 

At right is a listing of the team's core values that illustrate how we conduct ourselves both on and off the court. Here are just a few examples of who we are. I asked three of our team members to briefly summarize a recent experience they had that was important to them. 

Emma Lannon is a sophomore geography major who has revealed her "notable" and "honorable" values while traveling to many different third world countries for multiple service trips.  She is double minoring in environmental studies and international relations and most recently visited India.  

“This winter break, I was fortunate enough to spend my time volunteering in India. I lived in a local volunteer house within the Dharamshala Township in the Himachal Pradesh where my days were spent in an orphanage, slums and local community centers. I would spend my mornings helping out in the orphanages playing with kids and helping make food. During the middle of the day, I worked in the community with young women educating them about their rights and teaching them about how to get a job independently. In the late afternoon, I worked in the slums with children who do not attend school, I spent my time teaching them how to read, write and do simple math. 

My experience in India was life-changing, and I was so fortunate to be able to work with such amazing kids who love to learn but were never given the resources. I hope to return one day and continue to volunteer with these amazing children.”

Paige O’Connor is a junior business administration major who is by far the most involved student-athlete I have ever coached.  She exemplifies being "self-disciplined" in order to fulfill all of her responsibilities and is truly "genuine" in all she does.  Paige is a GOLD Mentor, President of HEROS, SAAC representative, Activities Commission Special Events Co-Coordinator, Admissions Tour Guide, Lamron Business Team member and a member of the Society for Opportunities in Business.  She recently had the opportunity to run an anti-hazing workshop at a local high school. 

“In November, I was part of an Anti-Hazing workshop at Perry High School. Along with Geneseo Director of Student Life, Chip Matthews, and men’s lacrosse team captain Sam Thompson, we spent time speaking with a group of high school athletes going over hazing prevention methods, how to see the signs, and what actions are appropriate to take in different situations. It is important that young, emerging student-athletes understand that hazing is not acceptable and not something that should be taken lightly. I hope that we continue to host workshops like this to inform student athletes on the importance of ending hazing. Prevention is key!”

Paige Pendleton is a junior biophysics major who was chosen out of thousands of applicants to be one of 14 interns for the summer Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) internship program. She is "inspiring" others on a daily basis and is "team-oriented" in all she does.  

“My internship with FCA volleyball provided me with the best summer of my life. I got to live with the other 13 interns in beautiful Southern California. We were trained to be stronger leaders on and off the court. There were five volleyball camps that we were responsible for running. Our main goal was to get our campers to connect with God. Incorporating our faith into the sport we all love was incredible. I left with a greater knowledge of the game, a stronger sense of leadership and community, and a better understanding of how to live out my faith in volleyball. I also gained friendships that will last forever.”

I could share inspiring and noteworthy stories about each one of my student-athletes as the entire team is made up of distinguished young women that each bring a different strength or characteristic to the program. But what all of them have in common is the trust they have in each other, which is a special bond that will never be broken. 

The team has adopted a line from the Disney Movie “Lilo and Stitch” as its motto. “Ohana means family.  Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”  

I can tell you one thing is for certain, it is an honor coaching this admirable group of student-athletes.  I am able to see them grow, mature and develop into remarkable young women.  

2014 was a record breaking year for Geneseo Women’s Volleyball and we will remember it fondly. More importantly though, we will remember overcoming obstacles are what led us to something greater.