Friday, Sept. 6, marked a busy night in Springfield College’s Blake Arena, as the women’s volleyball team played host to the Springfield College Invitational Tournament. Six teams took to the floor Friday night hoping to get the 2013 campaign started off on the right foot.
The Pride stepped onto the court for the first time this season, hoping to duplicate the success of last year’s squad which earned a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
In the first of two matches of the night, Springfield took on Simmons College. The Pride won the match 3-0 completing a series sweep in straight sets 25-12, 25-15 and 25-15 for its first victory of the regular season.
“It was really important to come out strong,” said head coach Moira Long, who is in her third year at the helm. “The team was just very tired of playing each other, and were very excited to see an opponent.”
The Pride were led by offensively by the strong play of sophomore outside hitter Daniella Crismani. The San Francisco, Calif. native led the team with 15 kills and was just six shy of the team total for Simmons, who saw their record fall to 0-5 for the season.
Junior setter Whitney Miller and freshman defensive specialist Meghan Kinne also played well in the first match with 34 assists and 15 digs respectively.
“We talk about how important it is to be aggressive in our serving and serve reception, so it was nice to get it going from the outset,” Long said.
The victory was the first of many to come for seven freshmen who join the team this fall. Long credits the leadership of her captains, along with the team as a whole for helping ease the transition for the new players.
“We have great leadership from our three captains (Clare Henry, Molly Giannattasio and Miller) but really it is a collective effort,” Long said. “All of our players do a great job integrating new players into our family and our team because it is so important. If you do not have chemistry on the court you are not going to be successful.”
Springfield’s second game of Friday night took place at 7 p.m., where the Pride were able to get off to an equally fast start, this time against the Lord Jeffs of Amherst College.
About halfway through the first set, the Pride were up 12-7, when the crowd at Blake arena was brought to life. Freshman middle blocker Lauren Holt delivered a punishing kill that Amherst had no answer for. The kill drew a loud reaction from the crowd as well as the Springfield bench. The team never looked back, winning the next two sets 25-12 and 25-15.
However, Amherst refused to go down quietly. The Lord Jeffs led 7-6 early on in the third set, and then would later go on a 10 point run to take a 16-9 lead. The Pride, facing its first big test of the year would respond.
After a rare play where the ball deflected off the ceiling of Blake Arena, Springfield recovered to score a critical point to close the gap to within two points, 21-19. This, along with a kill from Crismani, turned out to be the break the Pride needed as they would go on to take the set (26-24), and in turn, the match.
Springfield had to battle it out in the final set, but coach Long praised the team’s effort.
“The fight we had to really push back and keep chipping away was really important for us and it was a great test,” Long said. “Overall it was a really good day. It was the first two matches of the year and I thought we passed really well, hit and blocked really well and played good defense, so I was pleased.”
Springfield returns to action Saturday at Blake Arena, as the Invitational continues. The championship match is slated for 2:30 p.m.