By: Jon Santer
Led by 17 kills from senior outside hitter Tessa Smolinski, the Springfield College women’s volleyball team cruised to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-20) victory over the Smith College Pioneers Thursday night at Blake Arena. With the win, the Pride improved to 11-1 (3-1), while Smith dropped to 8-3 (2-2).
Following their first loss of the season, a 3-2 decision to NEWMAC-foe Babson College this past Tuesday, the Pride focused on playing better defense as well as fine-tuning other aspects of their game against the Pioneers, which aided in the victory.
“I thought it was great, we had some players that were able to come in and make a difference and make a change which was good,” commented head coach Moira Long. “Defensively, I thought we were better tonight than we have been. We definitely were better defensively tonight than in the Babson game. I thought we served tough and were more aggressive tonight, which was good.”
The Pride jumped on the Pioneers early in the first set, taking a 6-5 lead to begin the match. A kill that went out of bounds from sophomore Kelsey McGayhey evened the score at six points apiece, allowing for the Pioneers to then gain the lead.
Smith College was leading 15-14 when a pair of defensive miscues for the Pioneers allowed the Pride to regain the lead. Back-to-back kills from Smolinski extended Springfield’s lead to 17-15, and the Pride took the first set, 25-20.
Springfield found themselves up 12-10 in the second set, following a serve from sophomore outside hitter Kerry Purcell that was mishandled by the Pioneers. Building on the lead, freshman middle blocker Lauren Holt posted two blocks and two kills to extend Springfield’s lead to 17-11.
“I think Lauren ran the best line she has run all year tonight. I think adding that into her game is going to be really important for her moving forward,” added Long.
The Pride were able to close out Smith in the second set following three kills from Smolinski, all assisted by junior setter Whitney Miller.
“I couldn’t do anything without my passers and my hitters tonight,” commented Miller, who finished the match with 37 assists. “They were able to put balls down and get kills. Tonight was definitely a team effort. We came out really strong, we had a sense of urgency and when it came down to it, we looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s get this next point; let’s do it right now.”
A pair of Smith College miscues in the third set allowed for Springfield to take an 11-9 lead, setting the Pride up for a three-set sweep of the Pioneers.
Demonstrating resiliency, Smith kept fighting with the Pride, but after a long rally, Purcell fired down a kill that put the Pride up 20-18, allowing for Springfield to close out the set 25-20, and eventually the match, 3-0.
Springfield hopes to continue this success in the NEWMAC when they travel to Boston, Mass. this weekend to take on Emerson College.