After every Springfield College volleyball game, senior middle Elise Brogan yells, “So loud, so proud.” This past Sunday following a loss to Clarkson in the sweet 16, the soon-to-be graduate yelled it with all her emotion for the final time—ever. After 31 wins, an undefeated home record, and five regular-season tournament wins, it all came to end.
Despite a loss to Clark in the NEWMAC semi-finals, the Pride were still able to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. It was another opportunity to prove who they were. They were still alive.
“After a loss, you have to step back and say ‘oh maybe we’re not all that’,” said head coach Moira Long. “Getting that at-large bid gave us a sense of rejuvenation.”
Springfield was ready to put the wheels up to Clarkson University in up-state New York last Thursday. However, before their departure they were greeted outside of Blake Arena by students, faculty and all sorts of fans cheering, holding signs, and wishing the team luck. The fans were with the team the whole time even though they were separated by a six-hour drive.
“It was amazing to see all the love and support that goes on at Springfield College which is one of the reasons why I chose Springfield in the first place,” said freshman libero Hannah Lozano. “All that support that we got, not only at the send-off, but via twitter, Instagram and text messages was exactly what we needed to power us up for the weekend.”
After the long drive and a good-night sleep, the Pride woke up on Friday ready to take on an unfamiliar foe: Mt. St. Vincent. Springfield dominated all game as they took care of Dolphins in straight sets.
“We really dictated points and our setters were tremendous at being able to get a one-on-one. We established our middle which opens things up on the pin which is what we’ve preached all year,” said Long.
The next opponent for the Pride was SUNY Brockport. Despite sweeping Brockport as well, Springfield was tested. Long and company jumped out to an early two sets to none lead. Brockport did not go away easily though. The Pride found themselves down by seven at one point in the third set but were able to crawl back one point at a time.
They had to fight hard for the win but through phenomenal play from their leaders down the stretch of the third set, they were able to pull it off and celebrate a trip to the sweet 16 and a regional championship.
“The Brockport match was a battle from start to finish. We really had to grind,” said Long. “We were down 7 at one point, but we never panicked. We made a couple of subs to give Brockport a different look.”
Pushing to the sweet 16, the Pride would be put to the test again as they faced the volleyball juggernaut Clarkson University. The Pride fell to Clarkson in straight sets and the run that looked promising, came to a finish.
Long said, “Clarkson was the toughest serving team we saw all year. They hit the ball so hard. I mean, we hit the ball hard, but the ball came off of their hands and it was like ‘BANG!’”
There were tears, disappointment, and sadness, but most of all the Pride were proud. There are 386 division III volleyball programs in America and Springfield College was one of the final 16.
“I took it all in and realized that standing next to me is not only a team but a family who happens to be one of the top 16 teams in the nation and I am beyond grateful to be a part of it,” said Lozano.
For the seniors, it’s difficult. Four years of hard work, passion and dedication—but now, it’s over. Most will never play volleyball at a level this high for the remainder of their life. However, there is so much to be proud of.
Long said, “There were tears, but when they reflect it will be with great positivity a knowingness that they contributed to a legacy.”
Despite the loss, Springfield put together yet another phenomenal season. Not one that can be explained by just numbers and statistics, but by work ethic, togetherness and passion.
“I’ve been so blessed. Our team this year has just been absolutely tremendous. It has been a real joy every day to come to work, said Long. “We laugh together, we work hard together, and there’s a lot of love and respect within our program.”