By Stephen Monahan
SPRINGFIELD — As the ball bounced around Wellesley’s side, the Springfield College women’s volleyball team knew what to expect.
After coming back from a 2-1 set deficit, Wellesley college exclusively had been going to Yasmine Rice in the fifth set to put the Pride away.
As Rice prepared to blast her 54th attempt of the evening at the front line of Springfield, Katie vonKampen and Jen Donnelly knew it was coming their way.
Rice blasted the ball at the outstretched arms of vonKampen and Donnelly, who sent it back past the left shoulder of Rice to win the thrilling fifth set, 17-15 to defeat Wellesley College at Blake Arena on Saturday.
“In our timeouts, we kept saying that we need to have good eyes on our block,” said head coach Moira Long. “We knew in the last two points they were going to go to Yasmine Reece, so we were able to commit towards her side.”
The game between Springfield College and Wellesley College was announced to be Brain Aneurysm Awareness Game. For one member of the Pride, this meant a lot more to her than most people.
“I was diagnosed with brain aneurysm in January, and spent six months figuring out how to fix it,” said Long. “I was the most fortunate person to have it found and fixed. Also it came out of the fact that one of the parents said they would donate maroon socks for the day which is the color of brain aneurysm awareness.”
After winning the first game of their current five game home stretch, the Pride looked to continue their momentum as they faced 10-0 Wellesley at home.
In the first set, the Pride committed zero errors while converting on 50 percent of their total attempts to win the set, 25-18.
Wellesley would fight back in the second set by posting their best hitting percentage (.351) of the match to take the set 25-23.
Wellesley rode their momentum into the fourth set as they would win the set, 25-22.
Relaying back on their team values of trust and fight, the Pride fought back in the fourth set in a big way by holding Wellesley to a -.079 hitting percentage which was the lowest of the match. Springfield would win the fourth set, 25-20, to force a tie breaking fifth set.
“We live for fifth sets, its the death game at that point,” said vonKampen. “We practice it in practice all the time and had a game plan that we executed.”
Every point became exponentially more important as both teams dug and fought for an advantage.
Both teams would post hitting percentages below .06, as the fifth set turned into a battle.
Wellesley rode on the back of Rice who would provide five crucial kills in the last set.
After a miraculous blast by Jen Donnelly down the Wellesley sideline, the Pride found themselves in a 15-15 tie in the fifth set.
Rice would be blocked twice by the combined efforts of Katie vonKampen and Kken Donnelly to seal the victory for Springfield.
The Pride will look to continue their home momentum as they take on Smith College at 7 pm on Tuesday.
Featured photo courtesy of Helen Lucas