Other than tasty food and warm weather, head coach Moira Long and her women’s volleyball program took many positives away from their trip to San Antonio, Texas this past weekend for the Trinity Fall Classic.
On Friday evening, the Pride came out strong against Webster University, who traveled to San Antonio from St. Louis, Mo. and swept the Gorloks 3-0 behind a match-best 13 kills from freshman Lauren Holt.
Holt, a middle blocker from Granby, Conn., continued her dominant play in the second match of the evening, posting 16 kills and five blocks against Southwestern University, a team currently “receiving votes” to breach the national top 25.
Despite Holt’s efforts, the Pride fell 3-2 to the Pirates after winning the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-20.
“It was a great experience playing against such skillful teams and I know it made us better as individuals and as a team,” said Holt, the only member of the Pride to be named to the All-Tournament team. “It also opened our eyes that we can truly compete with the best of the best.”
Saturday morning stood as the toughest day of competition for Springfield in the 2013 season so far, and the day exceeded its expectations. Facing No. 19 Trinity University and No. 16 Eastern, the Pride were swept 3-0 in both matches.
Sophomore Daniella Crismani led the team in the Trinity match-up, tallying 10 kills and as many digs, while senior outside hitter Tessa Smolinski posted seven digs and six kills.
Smolinski, a Hebron, Conn. native, had her strongest match of the tournament against Eastern when she racked up 14 kills to go with 11 digs.
“It was tough competition, but we learned a lot about ourselves as a team,” commented Smolinski. “We learned things like knowing what we have to do to get better, having that confidence that we are at the same level as them and that we have the ability to beat teams like that, which will help us going into future games.”
Other than playing against the premier talent in the nation, the Pride feel as if they gained the necessary confidence heading into their toughest stretch of the season.
“I think playing these teams show us that we need to execute in critical times,” said Long. “It also helped us realize that we need to concentrate on this current point. We can’t be thinking about the point before or the point ahead – it is this point, right now, that is the only one that matters. Valuing the ball in those points is what is so important in every game.”
Springfield will face a threesome of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) teams in Williams College, Middlebury College and Trinity College of Hartford, Conn. at the Volleyball Hall of Fame Invitational held annually at Smith College.
Last season, the Pride came out of the tournament victorious with a pair of five-set victories on Saturday against Williams and Middlebury. Smolinski was named to the All-Tournament team after leading her team to victory.
Following the 2013 Volleyball Hall of Fame Invitational, the Pride will square off against Wellesley at home on November 2.
With what is shaping up to be a match that will ultimately determine first place in the NEWMAC standings, Springfield is looking to utilize the lessons learned at the Trinity Fall Classic as fuel for their postseason run.
“We scheduled this tournament for this weekend for a variety of reasons,” proclaimed Long. “Knowing we were going to see tough opponents this weekend and heading into our conference tournament, it was really important for us to be tested and find out what we need to do to be at that level. All in all, it was a successful trip.”