In the past two seasons Clark University has knocked Springfield out of the NEWMAC tournament during the semifinal round. In 2015, the Cougars bested the Pride 3-1 and last season Clark was able to sweep the Pride 3-0. In both years the Pride beat the Cougars 3-0 in the regular season, and earlier this season Springfield swept Clark in Blake Arena. One difference this season versus the past two is that Clark is ranked in front of the Pride at the end of the regular season. The Cougars are ranked No. 5 in the conference while the Pride is No. 7 with Springfield only having one more regular season game left against Emerson. In previous years Springfield was ranked in front of Clark. In 2015 the Pride was ranked first in the conference while Clark was third, and last year Springfield was No. 2 and the Cougars were directly below at No. 3.
Players to Watch: Bridget Walsh and Kayley Cimino
Jen Donnelly has been one of the top players for the Pride this whole season, but one player who has been playing consistently well this year is Bridget Walsh. Walsh so far this season has had 16 solo blocks and 52 block assist, which is the highest on the team. Walsh is No. 10 in the conference in blocks per set and has been one of the main reasons why the Pride is No. 1 in the conference in total blocks. On top of being one of the best blockers on the team, Walsh is fourth on the team in kills with 115. She is behind only behind Donnelly, Hayley Kmetz and Kayleigh Helgesen.
In her freshman campaign, Kayley Cimino has already made a name for herself on the Pride’s roster. Cimino leads the team in assist with 640 and the setter has 73 kills this season. As the season has gone on Cimino has become more comfortable with attacking the ball and in the last few games the setter has had around four kills per match. Against RIT, Cimino had 10 kills, which put her at second on the team for that match.
With Kmetz and Katie vonKampen, injured more players are going to need to step up for the Pride in playoffs the season. Kmetz, who is still No. 2 on the team in kills despite being out the past few games, is a huge loss for the Pride. VonKampen is No. 3 on the team in total blocks this season. With both vonKampen and Kmetz out, the Pride will need players to step up defensively as well as offensively.
Springfield spent the weekend playing against some of the best teams in New England such as Middlebury, Tufts and Williams, and even though they lost they were able to practice their new line up without Kmetz and vonKampen. The Pride’s record, 14-12 overall and 4-5 in conference play, isn’t where it has been in the past, but Springfield also was playing one of the toughest schedules in New England.
Springfield can be successful in playoffs, the team just needs to fight for every point. The games they have done the best in this season are the matches they really commit to and dive for every ball. Being ranked lower this season in the conference should serve as motivation going forward.