By Tucker Paquette
The Springfield College Pride women’s volleyball team defeated the Emerson Lions 3-2 (19-25, 25-18, 25-23, 10-25, 15-3) in five sets on Saturday afternoon at Blake Arena, in a match that could best be described as a two-hour roller-coaster ride.
Emerson took set one on the heels of a 5-1 closing run. The Lions broke away after winning a prolonged point on a kill by sophomore Amelia Combs.
Springfield would get back on track, however, as they won sets two and three by scores of 25-18 and 25-23, respectively.
A powerful kill from Maeve Voltz, a first-year middle blocker for the Pride, gave Springfield a 17-14 lead in set two. After a timeout from Emerson, the Pride tacked on four unanswered points to give themselves a commanding 21-14 lead. They wouldn’t look back, as they closed out the set without any trouble.
In set three, the Pride were boosted by another meaningful run, this one of the 6-1 variety. However, Emerson didn’t go down without a fight, answering a bit later with a timely 3-0 run to put the set’s score at 22-19 in favor of Springfield.
At this inflection point in the match, the Pride were able to close out the set, thanks in no small part to a strong block from Voltz, who let out an impassioned scream after the play. The block put Springfield in front 24-22, and they closed out the set on a clutch kill from sophomore outside hitter Riley Donahue.
While Springfield came up short in the first set, emerging victorious in sets two and three did wonders for the Pride’s morale.
“[Going] down in the first set, sometimes things start to get a little bit tense,” Donahue said. “That [situation] motivates us, and it’s been proven in multiple [prior] games, so I think it was a great energy boost for all of us.”
However, all of Springfield’s positive feelings from winning two consecutive sets left Blake Arena in a flash, as the Lions dominated the Pride in set four to the tune of a 25-10 score.
Pride head coach Moira Long called multiple timeouts in the fourth set, but nothing could be done to stop the bleeding. After each timeout, the Lions simply opened up another run.
“Ultimately, in set four, nobody did their job,” Long said.
The fourth set, as is the case with just about all tough blows, had the potential to be a back-breaker. But the Pride were determined not to let that be the case.
“I asked who was going to do their job, and I told them what the job was, from start to finish,” Long said.
“[I asked] who was [ticked] off at the fact that we lost that set, and who was going to come out and be proactive, not reactive,” Long added. “Who’s going to be aggressive, who’s going to be the aggressor?”
Well, Springfield most certainly took Long’s message to heart, as they looked like an entirely different team in the pivotal fifth set. The Pride jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead with a kill from Donahue, after which Emerson called a timeout.
The Pride picked up right where they left off, though, going on a 4-0 run and forcing Emerson to blow the whistle yet again. The Lions’ second timeout of the fifth set did no good, either, as Springfield went on a forceful 6-1 run to win the set by a score of 15-3.
There were likely many thoughts going through the minds of Springfield players and coaches after the disastrous fourth set. Ultimately, it was an approach headlined by motivation and simplicity that led the Pride to an ever-important fifth set victory.
“I think coming back from the set before and getting angry and holding each other accountable [was crucial],” Donahue said of the Pride’s mindset ahead of the fifth set. “[The feeling] was everyone should know their job and everyone needs to have fun and pick each other up, and I think that’s exactly what we did.”
Looking ahead, the Pride’s next match will take place on the road at Coast Guard this Tuesday, the 18th, at 7pm.
Photo by Tucker Paquette/The Student