Six Things You Need To Know About 2019 Women's Volleyball

GENESEO, N.Y. - The SUNY Geneseo women's volleyball team opens the 2019 campaign at the Franklin & Marshal Invitational this Friday and Saturday. Here are six things you need to know about the Knights this season.

Geneseo returns all but one starter from last year's 22-10 squad that earned the top seed and hosted the SUNYAC Tournament after going undefeated in conference play (9-0) for the first time in program history. The Knights swept third-seeded Fredonia, 3-0, in the semifinals to advance to the conference championship match for the first time since 2006, before falling, 3-0, to New Paltz.

2. 20-20 VISION
Third-year head coach Hunter Drews looks to guide the Knights to their third-straight 20-win season for the first time in 13 years. Geneseo ended the 2018 campaign with a 22-10 record after finishing 23-11 in 2017 to string together back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2006.

Senior outside hitter Grace Cergol returns after winning her second-straight SUNYAC Offensive Player of the Year award last fall. Cergol led the SUNYAC for the second year in a row with 4.18 kills per set while finishing fifth with 301 total kills and 14th with 3.14 digs per set in. One of only two players ranked in the top-15 in both kills and digs per set, she compiled double-digit kills in all but four of the 23 appearances she made while notching double-doubles in kills and digs on nine occasions. The 2017 All-American is only the fifth player in SUNYAC history to win multiple Player of the Year honors while no player has ever won three. Cergol also became the first player in program history to surpass 1,000 career kills and digs, entering the season fifth all-time with 1,208 kills and ninth with 1,086 digs.

Seniors Sam Mendelsohn and Abby May return to the starting lineup in 2019. Mendelsohn is a three-time All-SUNYAC defensive specialist that ranked sixth in the league with 3.92 digs per set last fall while climbing to fourth in program history with 1,312 career digs. May finished fourth on the squad with 199 kills last year and currently stands 21st in program history with 659 kills. The outside hitter was tabbed a second-team SUNYAC All-Star in 2017.

Geneseo will be in the hunt for its fourth-consecutive postseason berth after taking a step forward each of the last three seasons. The Knights nabbed the sixth seed for the 2016 SUNYAC Tournament to break a five-year postseason hiatus, before upsetting host Fredonia, 3-0, in the quarterfinals. In 2017, Geneseo climbed to the third seed and defeated visiting Cortland, 3-0, in its first home postseason contest since 1998. After back-to-back setbacks in the SUNYAC semifinals, Geneseo advanced to the championship match last year for the first time since 2006.

6. CLEAN SLATE (2019 Schedule)
After three matches at Franklin & Marshall this Friday and Saturday, Geneseo heads to the Case Western Reserve Invitational next weekend (Sept. 6-7) for three contests in Cleveland. The Knights take on Rochester in their home opener (Sept. 10) before heading to Boston for the MIT Tournament (Sept. 13-14). Geneseo kicks off its SUNYAC schedule hosting Brockport (Sept. 17) before playing Rowan and host Scranton (Sept. 21) the following weekend. The Knights host Potsdam (Sept. 27), Plattsburgh (Sept. 28), Buffalo State (Oct. 4) and Fredonia (Oct. 5) in a four-match SUNYAC home swing before heading to RIT for a single match (Oct. 8). Three matches at the Clarkson Invitational (Oct. 18-19) followed by trips to Cortland (Oct. 25) and Oswego (Oct. 26) close the month before three matches at Carnegie Mellon (Nov. 1-2) wrap up the regular season. The SUNYAC Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 5 (quarterfinals), Nov. 8 (semifinals) and Nov. 9 (championship).