Batavia, NY - The Genesee Community College Women’s Volleyball team has yet to lose a game in conference this season. At 7-0 in Western New York Athletic Conference play, the Lady Cougars have been very successful despite lacking size.
“We were a little unlucky. We started off the season with a couple of girls that were a little taller but we ran into injuries,” Head Coach Jim Mercer said. “What we had to do was say, ‘well we’ve got some girls that are great players, but they’re all under five-foot-six. How can we take advantage of what they do well and still be successful?’ So what we did was tinker a little bit with our offense and our defense to play to our strengths,” Mercer said.
The tinkering worked.
GCC currently has three players ranked nationally in the top five of Division II Volleyball in total digs. Sophomore Paige Tilert (Derby, NY) leads the country with 858 total digs. That mark is 207 more than the second ranked player, who just happens to be her teammate Maria Antsupova (Ozersk, Russia). Tilert’s 8.09 digs per set are also second in the nation, while Antsupova has tallied 651 total digs. Joining Tilert and Antsupova in the top five is Kristie Barger (Lima, NY), ranked fourth, with 597 total digs. Her 5.80 digs per set are also 11th best in the nation.
Currently 17-17 overall, the Lady Cougars started the season 1-10, a direct result of the level of competition they began the year playing.
“What we did at the end of last season, talking with the girls, is we decided that we wanted to ‘go big or go home.’ So the first three tournaments that we went to where the strongest competition I could find in the area,” Mercer said.
In the first month of the season, Genesee played in tournaments where the competition included schools currently ranked in the top ten in the country. Oakland Community college, currently ranked #2, and Owens Community College, currently ranked #5, were teams that the Lady Cougars saw more than once.
“We took a beating. And because we took a beating, it really allowed us to raise our expectations and to get hungrier,” Mercer said. “We may have taken a little hit on the confidence factor, but it really helped us to become a little more humble and work harder.”
The hard work has paid off in seven straight victories over conference opponents. In total, the Lady Cougars have only lost four sets in those seven contests. A strong late season run seems to have GCC set up for a strong finish to the season.
“The goal is always to get to nationals and win. That has to be the goal. Whether or not we will attain that, we’ll see. We have a couple of huge tournaments and contests coming up where we will be able to see if we’ve done the right things this year,” said Mercer. “We’ll be able to see if we’ve maintained confidence and at the same time improved.”
The Lady Cougars will compete in the Western New York Athletic Conference Tournament on Saturday, October 22nd beginning at 9am. Their next step to the ultimate goal of winning nationals will be trying to qualify at the Region III Tournament starting on October 25th.
“We work hard. We’ve got some great girls that work really hard. They’re not big, but they have big hearts,” added Mercer.
GCC’s next contest will be at home on October 18th at 6pm against conference opponent Niagara County Community College. Admission is free and all are welcomed to attend.
For team schedules, roster, photos and general information, please go to: