© AlbanyStudentPress

A Perfect October Has UAlbany Leading the America East

By Jay Bendlin

UAlbany's Bench Celebrating. Jay Bendlin / ASP

After a nine game winning streak, the University at Albany volleyball team finished a

perfect 9-0 October record. Six of those nine wins were three-set shutouts. They had a six-

game winning streak against America East opponents snapped by a five-set loss against New

Hampshire Nov. 3.


To end October, UAlbany turned their 2-9 start to the season into an 11-9 record,

putting them in sole possession of first-place in the conference.


“We had some great individual performances early in the season but lately they are not

only helping each other on the court, but being better as a team,” said head coach Josh Pickard.


With such a fast-paced game, every player needs to be thinking as a unit.


“All our minds are synced,” said right side hitter Akuabata Okenwa. “Our form is so

much better now that we’re playing together.”


The win streak started on the road, but took off when the Great Danes stepped on their

home court. They own a 4-0 record as of Friday’s win against Hartford, only losing 1-of-13

sets in the process.


“It’s always nice to play at home and sleep in your own bed,” said Pickard. “It’s nice to

get back and play in front of your friends and family.”


Early in the season, long-distance tournaments prevent the team from traveling all of its

players. Now that they are in the heart of conference play, the players on the sideline have an

important role. Whether it is a dance move, jump or scream, the bench is always active.


“Having a bench that is that energetic is essential to our wins,” Okenwa said. “Energy

in volleyball is a huge thing. If there isn’t energy on the court the game can go south really

fast.”


In a rematch of the 2018 America East championship game, the Great Danes traveled to

Stony Brook, where they defeated the Seawolves in a five-set showdown.


UAlbany had the best game of its season, recording numerous season bests, and

Okenwa reached the 1000 kill mark.


“It’s always special to beat Stony Brook at Stony Brook,” Pickard said. “To get a win at

their place was fantastic.”


The rivalry extends so deep, there is a giant banner that says “Beat Albany” on their

campus.


With two regular season games remaining, the Great Danes lead the America East

standings and are currently in a position to host the Tournament.