In sports, there are a lot of things that make a team great. People would think it is an assortment of superstars or a good coach. Others may say it is work ethic or teamwork. Usually, it is more than one of these components that make up an elite team.
On Thursday night in Blake Arena, many of these elite values were on display when Springfield College Women’s Volleyball looked to continue their strong start to the season versus Smith College Pioneers. Coach Moira Long directed her players in flawless fashion, junior Lauren Holt and senior Kelsey McGayhey lead the charge on the court, and, most importantly, the entire team having fun. These qualities of leadership, team chemistry, and communication are what make this team special. It is why they have jumped out to a roaring 11-2 start on the season, including a 3-0 victory over Smith.
Right from the beginning, the Pride’s depth clearly was what bothered Smith. In the first set, Springfield came out with a strong balanced attack that was overwhelming.
“Our offense was really clicking,” said Long of the quick offense that set Springfield apart from Smith in the first set, due in large part to the accurate passing the Pride showed. “Our setters did a really good job putting the ball where our hitters needed it to be.”
Those accurate passes led to three kills from Holt, McGayhey, and sophomore outside hitter Kayleigh Helgesen in the first set, which ultimately resulted in a lopsided score of 25-14 in favor of the Pride.
In the second set, the Pride’s fun side came out. Throughout the set, you could witness at any given time a Springfield College player either cheering, encouraging, laughing, or singing. This is what is so special about the Women’s Volleyball team. They have chemistry that is unbreakable. Freshman Hayley Kmetz, who had a career-high nine kills, said that she, “absolutely loves” being on the team because it is “like a family.” Despite a mid-set rally from Smith, Springfield was able to continue their accurate play and aggressive attack en route to another set victory, 25-14.
The third set showed the future of the program. With a commanding two set victory, coach Long was confident in her less experienced players to carry the team to victory. At the beginning, the Pioneers took advantage of the inexperience of the Pride’s younger talent and had a close lead half way through the set. Long took a timeout to communicate to her players and her message was, “to be external.”
“Our program is built off of communication and talk more in moments where play lacks,” said Long.
This resonates with the elite values of communication, quality coaching, and depth. After the timeout, senior leader McGayhey was on the sideline voicing her encouragement to the underclassmen closing out the game. Kmetz, Helgesen, and the lone senior on the court, Elise Brogan, responded. The three rallied the team from a locked score with kills of their own to jump up 21-18. Then, that same sequenced repeated until the final. The future of the program showed that while young in age, they can still have talent to finish off a game. The depth that the Pride possesses is something that will be key for the rest of the season.
The Pride’s 11-2 record is a direct result of their elite values of depth, experience, coaching, and team chemistry. These will be things to watch as the Pride moves forward into their conference play. Springfield defeated Emerson 3-0 on Saturday, the programs third consecutive win, improving their conference record to 4-1, a half game behind MIT and Clark..