By Nick Pantages
Despite the rowdy and energetic scene inside Blake Arena provided by the Springfield College students, there was not much they could do to affect the result on the court.
The Springfield Pride women’s volleyball team lost in straight sets Tuesday night to the MIT Engineers, 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-22).
The Pride suffered their third loss of the season, pushing their record to 8-3, while dropping their first home contest of the season after winning the first five.
MIT came into the game ranked 17th in the country with a record of 11-1, and that improved to 12-1 with its 7th consecutive win. They showed why they were that highly ranked with a clean road victory.
The Pride started off competitive, with a fiery kill from sophomore Riley Donahue, but the Pride were once again plagued by errors. Four service errors in the first 10 points did not help the Pride, and it helped kickstart an MIT run – another theme of the match. After going down 9-5 early, the Engineers went on a barrage and turned that deficit into an 18-14 lead, one they would not squander.
“We can serve tougher, need to control unforced errors,” Springfield head coach Moira Long said. “Service errors are all mental… I just think we aren’t taking enough time in the back row, we are rushing it, we gotta settle down.”
The second set featured more of the same, with the Pride staying competitive, pushing the score to 8-7 in favor of the Engineers with a couple of loud kills by Donahue and fellow sophomore Natalie Billet. But it was all MIT from there, as they unleashed a flurry of thunderous kills, powerful serves and tenacious blocks onto the Pride, spurring a 12-2 run to take a 20-9 lead.
The Pride had trouble matching the ferocity of the Engineers.
“Their serves were really, really good, so we definitely struggled a little bit in serve receive,” graduate student Ally Townsend said. “We haven’t seen that many hard serves in a while.”
After the second set, Long was seen giving a passionate speech to her team.
Postgame, Long said, “I was like ‘It would be great if we could go back to playing our style of volleyball, and not theirs… oh my lord, this is what we need to do and you all know it I’m tired of saying it.’”
After this speech, the Pride came out and gave their best effort, with an explosive kill from Billet, one of her team high 10 kills, sparking an electric reaction from the crowd, which did its best to inspire the Pride.
“Sometimes after a really long rally, we have to expend all the energy we have left to cheer,” Townsend said. “Just having a huge crowd to cheer with us kind of helps us recover for the next point.”
With the Pride up by a score of 16-15 in the third set, MIT went on one of their patented runs to push themselves into the lead – scoring six unanswered to turn the score to 21-16. They held on to win the final set 25-22, despite a fierce rally from the Pride at the end.
The loss stung, but there were some positives for Long and her squad to hold on to.
“For a young team, being able to adjust our defense, we totally tweaked it for number 1 (Ella Gragg),” Long said. “I think we executed well, so it was nice to see that we could do that easily…I wasn’t sure how we were gonna respond, so I think that’s a real positive.”
Townsend added, “I think we executed our game plan really well.”
The Pride next take the court on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. in Worcester, as they take on fellow NEWMAC opponent WPI looking to rebound from Tuesday’s loss.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics