March 15, The Ides of March: A day in which Roman King Julius Caesar needed to beware. Tragedy was inevitable. The numbers three and 15 represented as a date have provoked a great deal of fear for some. People hope their fate is not similar to that of Caesar’s.
Opponents of the Springfield College women’s volleyball team fear the numbers three and 15 as well. Senior, Kelsey McGayhey (no. 3) and junior, Lauren Holt (no. 15) provide the Pride with an attack that is like no other. The duo was at it again Tuesday night as it hoisted Springfield over Wheaton in straight sets, 25-17, 25-18, 25-20, for the team’s fourth consecutive victory.
“We’re intimidating,” said McGayhey of Holt, who is third in blocks per set in all of the United States, and herself. “We’ve grown a lot over the years and developed a lot of chemistry. When we go up for a block at the same time, it’s unstoppable.”
McGayhey loves blocking. As she jumps high raising her arms like she is in the NFL combine being tested for her vertical, it seems as if the ball hits the brick wall that are her hands every single time. As the ball falls to the ground and the official signals a point for the Pride, McGayhey walks to the huddle of her yelling teammates with a smirk on her face, shaking her index finger laterally indicating that no one can get the ball past her.
“Out of everything in volleyball, making a block gets me the most excited. There’s no better feeling than rejecting the other team’s best hitter.” she said
Head Coach Moira Long said, “When they [McGayhey and Holt] put up that block it impacts the other team. They start to wonder where they can go with the ball.”
With all the glamour around the powerful finishes and enforcing blocks from McGayhey and Holt comes the behind the scenes work from passers and setter, as the Pride racked up 40 assists on Tuesday, led by 20 from Molly Giannattasio.
“Our setters are doing a great job of giving the ball to the right person and keeping it simple,” said Long.
The Pride, unbeaten at home, led from start to finish in the first set before falling behind 2-3 in the second set. After winning the next two points to regain the lead, Springfield did not give it up again for the rest of the match. This team is capable of dominating opponents from start to finish, especially in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) conference matches. In six conference matches this season, the Pride have just one loss to MIT.
“Whenever it’s NEWMAC night, it is not a normal game. It’s a conference match that is super important,” said McGayhey. “Before the game, we get ourselves pumped up. We always want to be the first aggressor from start to finish.”
Kayleigh Helgesen also had a big game for the Pride. The outside hitting transfer from Division II Shepherd University had 11 kills and hit a .588 clip.
“Our right sides just dominated tonight,” Long said with emphasis on ‘dominated.’ “Kelsey is going to be the dynamic player that she is while Kayleigh is going to hit deep balls and take advantage of seams. They complement each other really well and they learn from one another.”
The win for Springfield was the fourth in a row after defeating Babson, Smith, and Emerson all within the past seven days. Things have been clicking lately both offensively and defensively.
“We’ve been disciplined defensively and we’re hitting at a high percentage which obviously helps a lot. We’re playing smart volleyball,” said Long.
The Pride are getting right into the thick of their season. With six conference matches under their belt, they will take a break from NEWMAC play and head to the Keane University Invitational Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday Oct. 3. Springfield will play four matches over the two days and look to improve their record to 17-2.