Springfield women’s volleyball is on fire.
Just a month into their season, the Pride have a 16-1 overall record and a 5-0 record in NEWMAC conference play. This start is second only to the team’s opening 21-0 streak in 2011.
Springfield has been beating opponents at home and on the road, tacking on wins against Clark University and Emerson College just last week.
Springfield was also able to pick up a reverse sweep against MIT, a formidable NEWMAC opponent, on the road. Third-year outside hitter and captain Riley Donahue spoke about how the team’s ability to play their roles is what allows them to band together in these high-pressure moments.
“We have a lot of players coming on and off the bench,” Donahue explained. “People who don’t exactly see a lot of court time come in in game-time situations when they’re needed and everyone just knows what to do, and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful.”
For the fifth time in her career, Donahue was named the NEWMAC Women’s Volleyball Offensive Athlete of the Week. However, as she noted, it’s been a combined effort to extend this win streak the way Springfield has.
Sophomore middle blocker Maeve Voltz has also received NEWMAC Athlete of the Week honors, on both offense and defense this year. Junior Natalie Billet is an offensive powerhouse, amassing 130 kills and over 160 points for the Pride this season.
However, both Donahue and head coach Moira Long stressed that what truly makes this team so successful is the bond between players outside of the gym. The returners’ ability to take underclassmen under their wing and make them feel welcomed in the program directly translates to the Pride’s chemistry on the court.
“I think our team is really committed to our core values and it starts with family,” Long said. “It starts with how we support one another on and off the court; so our freshmen have reached out to our upperclassmen, whether it’s to ask questions or just for support that they need, and our upperclassmen have totally embraced that. So, I think it’s off the court that you want to see those things happen because it impacts on the court.”
Donahue echoed the sentiment, saying, “We all have a very good bond, a good friendship with everyone on and off the court, so I think what we do outside of the court helps us whenever we play together. We do everything together, we do a bunch of team dinners, we do team activities, we always hang out on the weekends on our off days. We have a couple of girls from very far away, so it’s important that, especially with our freshmen, we make sure they’re adjusted.”
Coach Long also shared that the Pride are committed to their team culture of clear and direct communication, which has made overcoming any potential challenges much easier. Overall, the team has been great holding one another accountable and taking the season one game at a time.
“I think it’s just a work in progress. I think every day we come in, and we look for how is it we can get better,” Long said. “I think we’re just never satisfied, we just want to continue to build off each prior day and what we’ve done to get to what we’re trying to achieve.”
Springfield hopes to win the NEWMAC conference and ultimately, return to the NCAA tournament this year.
Long said, ”I think it’s a 100% achievable goal. We want that, we want to be in the NCAA tournament. We don’t want to just make it there, we want to go far in the NCAA tournament. I think what drives us right now is that we didn’t get that last year, I think it’s this ‘what’s next?’ moment.”
Springfield is currently tied with Babson at the top of the NEWMAC women’s volleyball standings and will take on Coast Guard next Tuesday in Blake Arena.
Photo via Springfield College Athletics.