For the second time in three years under head coach Moira Long, the Springfield College women’s volleyball team hoisted the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship trophy following a 3-2 victory over Wellesley College on Sunday afternoon at Blake Arena. The win provided the Pride with a 25-5 record and an automatic qualification into the NCAA Tournament.
After sweeping the first two sets, 25-21 and 25-22, the Pride fell 25-14 to the Blue in set three due to impressive performances from junior Sydney Carfagno and Caitlin Laughlin. Carfagno finished the match with 25 kills, while Laughlin collected six of her own.
“The sets that we won today, we played really well,” said Long. “I think in set three we were so focused on winning that we just lost focus on what we needed to do, but we were able to come back which was nice.”
Amy Entel, a junior libero, was awarded the NEWMAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after her match best 20 digs, including a diving save in which she snuck her hand under the ball at the last second to keep the point alive, a point that the Pride eventually won.
“I think that was one of the best games we have ever played. We definitely could have gone to three, but we came together and had confidence in each other and we did such a great job,” said Entel. “Knowing that it is never going to be easy and the fact that we were able to fight and come back in set five will just better prepare us to do that moving forward.”
Daniella Crismani led the Pride with 14 kills, but it was a pair of blocks alongside teammate Lauren Holt at the end of the second set that really aided the Pride in victory. After Carfagno tied the game up 22-22, Holt and Crismani blocked the next attempt from the Blue. Sophomore right-side hitter Kerry Purcell delivered a kill that put the Pride up 24-22. Holt and Crismani teamed up once more to stuff another attempt from Wellesley, giving Springfield the 25-22 set victory.
“I thought the team played very well today,” said Crismani. “Obviously in the third and fourth set we lost a little bit of focus, but overall I think that we came together and conquered our goal.”
After the fourth set in which the Pride fell 25-19, Long decided to send her team off the floor and behind the curtain to focus on the fifth set, which would ultimately decide the NEWMAC Championship.
The method seemed to work because Springfield came out and took an early 4-0 advantage on the Blue, aided by two kills from Crismani, as well as one from both Holt and sophomore Kelsey McGayhey.
Just as they had done all day, the Blue fought back to make it 4-4, before another kill from Crismani gave the lead back to Springfield. Following this, the Pride never looked back and defeated the Blue 15-11 in the final set, resulting in a celebration on the Blake Arena floor.
“Before we started the set I wanted them to get out of the gym,” said Long. “I don’t have a zen mentality by any means, but there was bad energy on the floor and on our bench so I sent them away and hoped they would come back with some good energy. They came back with a vengeance and took it to them.”