By Joe Arruda
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College women’s volleyball team (10-4) swept Clark University (4-10) in three straight sets on Tuesday night in Blake Arena. The win comes as the first NEWMAC conference win for the Pride (1-2), while the Cougars are left searching for their way into the win column (0-3).
After losing their second NEWMAC match of the season on Saturday to WPI, the Pride continued their trend of responding strong to losses.
“We just tried to be a little bit more balanced. The other day when we played against WPI, our two left-side players, (Ashley Tanner and Demi) at the time, had 68 swings, like that’s not how we’re going to win volleyball matches,” said head coach Moira Long.
On Tuesday, the Pride attacked by committee.
A total of six different players recorded kills for the Pride, three of them with more than 8. Distributing the ball was Sara Labadorf who finished the match with 34 assists, leading to a .235 team hitting percentage.
While the percentage was not as high as Springfield is accustomed to, but their all around game was too tough for the Cougars to handle. From behind the service line the Pride had 8 aces, and at the net their defense combined for 8 blocks.
“I think you need to serve tough, so you get them out of system so they give you an easy ball, so that you can then counter with an attack,” Long said.
“I think we did a much better job of mixing up our shots, and maybe the hitting percentage wasn’t .300 or .400 or what have you, but we had a lot more players, we were evenly dispersed which helps when you serve them out of system, now you can dig balls and kind of pick and choose instead of only having one option.”
In the second set, Springfield was only able to muster a .062 hitting clip. However, their wall-like defense was impenetrable at the net, and Clark likewise hit under .100 in the set.
Long said, “I think we did a good job of, like, they got a kill and then we responded. Opportunity to respond, we talk about that in physical education all of the time but it’s the same thing on the volleyball court. Like if you get used on the block, you have to come back and make a change, and I thought we did a good job of doing that today.”
After Clark made a run on set point for Springfield, winning three straight points, the Pride were able to escape with a 25-20 set win.
The narrative changed for the Pride in the third set as ball distribution took a lead role in their attack.
“We tried to establish our middle more in the third set, and then our middles ran a few more 31s which kind of opens things up for the right side a little bit more,” Long said.
Earning their first conference win comes as a relief for the Pride, but they are not satisfied, especially after the tough loss to WPI on Saturday. The word of the season being “consistency,” Springfield will look to continue their success from Tuesday night and start the climb up the NEWMAC standings.
Long said, “Every win’s important. It’s nice to get that that off our back. It’s disappointing that it’s the first one after we played three, but we are just looking for consistency and every match is important, (asking ourselves,) ‘do we get better every time we step on the court?’”
The Pride will look to start a winning streak as they head to Bates College for a double header against both Colby College and Bates on Saturday. They will then return to Springfield and host another conference matchup against Coast Guard on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Photo courtesy of Helen Lucas