Friday night’s women’s volleyball match was a much-anticipated one as Springfield College took on the Hawks from Roger Williams University. The Pride entered the match ranked second in New England with a 14-1 record, and RWU came in at 20-1 ranked first in the region. Much of the team took to social media to encourage fans to head out to Blake Arena to support the team, and the effort was successful as the arena was loud with support coming from Springfield fans, as well as RWU fans that traveled well to attend this match of powerhouses.
Springfield started the first set off slow, but quickly regained momentum and led most of the set by a narrow margin, with both teams seldom getting leads larger than two or three points. Midway through the set, RWU came down from three to tie the match at 13. After RWU scored a 14th point, Springfield had no choice but to take a timeout to slow the Hawks’ momentum. After incessant changes of leads and a thrilling conclusion, Roger Williams took the first set in extra play by a score of 27-25.
Springfield came back with a vengeance in the second set, jumping all over RWU for five points before the Hawks could score a single one. Not to be denied, Roger Williams quickly brought the game back to a tie, locking it up at seven. The teams went back and forth, with lengthy, motivated volleys that kept both teams close through a white-knuckled second set. In the end, Springfield regained their form and proved to be too much for Roger Williams, taking the set 25-19 and locking the match at a set apiece.
The third set was much of the same, as the lead constantly changed and ties throughout the match were prevalent. Late in the set, Springfield went down 22-19, but scored three consecutive points to knot it up at 22. Yet again, the match had to be decided by extra play when the Hawks tied it up at 24. RWU would not surrender any more points and went on to take the set 26-24 and lead the match 2-1.
The Pride went into the fourth set with their backs against the wall, and the set proved to be no different than the previous three, as both teams duked it out the entire time. More than usual, Springfield controlled the set and kept the lead, far from insurmountable, but never close enough for Roger Williams to regain as Springfield took the set by a tally of 25-21, forcing a fifth, winner-take-all set.
Not surprisingly, the fifth set had the entertainment value of the pervious four, but with the added pressure of a tiebreaker. Springfield started a bit slower than they had previously, but they quickly tied it back up, and passion was the name of their game from then on out. Springfield was down 8-5 at the fifth set intermission, but scored quickly, giving glimmers of hope of a shift in momentum. The momentum never truly shifted either way until Springfield got their 10th point. Down 13-9, an impressive, nearly minute long volley characterized by dives, blocks and spikes ended up in the favor of Springfield. However, Roger Williams was not to be outdone, taking the final set 15-13.
The match was everything a one versus two match-up should entail. It was loaded with outstanding play, talent and was a thriller to the very end. Springfield dropped to 14-2 on the season, but the match certainly showed the Pride’s promise, and that they can keep pace with the current best in New England.