Men's Sports Sports Women's Sports

Athletes of the Week: Men’s Soccer’s Drew Vanasse and Women’s Volleyball’s Tessa Smolinski

Greg Fitzpatrick
Contributing Writer

Tessa Smolinski, Women’s Volleyball

Tessa Smolinski has had quite the week. Smolinski was named the NEWMAC volleyball Player of the Week. The junior outside hitter helped the Pride go 5-1 in this week’s games. At the Salisbury Invite in Salisbury, Maryland, Smolinski posted 27 kills and 23 digs against New Paltz. She also had 16 kills and 16 digs against Mary Washington. Her success at the Salisbury Invitational led her to earn All-Tournament Team Honors along with sophomore Whitney Miller.

Smolinski is third in NEWMAC play in hitting percentage and second in kills. Her success has helped the Pride reach a 22-5 record and 6-1 in the conference.  The native from Hebron, CT has recorded 80 digs and 77 kills in the 4-1 winning stretch for the Pride. The Pride recently earned a victory against Smith College on Tuesday night. Smolinski had another solid performance with 13 kills, seven digs, and four aces. If she continues to put up big numbers every match, and with the help of her teammates, the Pride might see themselves holding the NEWMAC championship trophy. The Pride have five games left before they start the NEWMAC tournament on Oct. 30. Their next game is against Amherst College in Northampton on Friday.

Q: What have you improved on during the off-season?

A: I am always playing volleyball any chance I get. I talked to the coaches a lot, and they told me specifically how I could get better. I worked more on defense and touching more balls.

Q:  How does it feel to be named NEWMAC Volleyball Player of the Week?

A:  I was really excited. It was great to be recognized and represent Springfield. The Salisbury tournament was great, and we had two big conference wins to end the week.

Q: How do you feel going into NEWMACs?

A: I definitely feel good. I was a little disappointed that we might not be hosting NEWMACs, but that is only motivation to do better.

Q: What is your favorite meal at Cheney?

A: Chicken Caesar wrap and cheesecake for dessert.

Drew Vanasse, Men’s Soccer

Junior defender Drew Vanasse has been unstoppable. Vanasse was named the NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week. His solid performances last week have made him highly recognized around the NEWMACs. Recently, Vanasse helped lead the Pride to a 1-0 victory over Westfield State. Not much scoring was needed with Vanasse being the anchor of a strong Pride defense. In a conference away game against MIT, the Pride were an offensive threat winning 3-1. The Concord, Mass. native helped the Pride only let one goal by out of the 19 shots that MIT rifled up.

Both games against Westfield State and MIT were away and huge wins for the team. Vanasse controlled the defensive unit both games. The Pride defense has only let up two goals in the past three games.

Vanasse was also named one of the ECAC Players of the Week. If he continues to bring this kind of intensity, the Pride will have a good shot of making NEWMACs and going even further. The Pride have four games left and continuing their winning streak would make a huge impact for the playoffs.

Q: What have you done to improve from last season?

A: I have worked on my long balls. Coach emphasized how important that is. I have also worked on communication with my teammates, and we have really started to click.

Q: How does the three-game win streak give the team momentum?

A: We feel very confident going into our next game. We have been playing so well, and playing a top team in New England like Brandeis gives us a lot of motivation.

Q: How does it feel to be NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week?

A: It feels really good, especially since we are playing so well. The defense has great chemistry, and it makes it so much easier to play well. Everyone has really stepped it up.

Q: What is your favorite meal at Cheney?

A: Mac and cheese and the paninis.

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