Whether they are dominating or have their back against the wall, the Springfield College women’s volleyball team always plays hard.
The Pride never gave up on Saturday as they got swept by Williams College in the Tom Hay Invitational title game (25-16, 25-23, 25-18).
Besides being a tournament title game at the end of the regular season, it was a rematch of the 2013 NCAA regional semifinals in which the Ephs slipped by the Pride 3-2.
Williams also had a chip on their shoulder coming into this game, as they lost to Clarkson University in five sets in their previous match. “I was really proud of my team for the way that they responded,” said Williams head coach Christi Kelsey.
The Ephs indeed did respond well as they had several contributors to the victory. Tori Jasuta had a game high 13 kills and 11 digs while Ryan Farley had 34 assists.
“They kind of came out and punched us in the face,” said Pride head coach Moira Long. “I don’t think we recovered after the first set.”
It was a balance of miscommunication by the Pride and strong play by the Ephs that resulted in an easy flowing first set for the visitors.
Springfield may not have fully recovered from the first set, but they certainly put the Ephs on their heels in the second set. The Pride improved their communication and were aggressive on the nets. The maroon and white saw their first lead of the game when they went up 7-6 early in the second set.
Lauren Holt (six blocks, five kills) and Kelsey McGayhey (six kills, three blocks) helped pave the way to an exciting second set. It was a big difference from the opening set of the match.
“Their (Springfield) always going to battle, they never give up no matter what the score is and they just hung in there and kept fighting,” McGayhey said.
The Pride also had a solid effort from Captain Whitney Miller, who Long calls the spark of the team. Whitney finished with 16 assists and six digs.
The second set featured 11 ties as the scrapy Springfield team looked to tie the match up.
Down 23-22, Holt and McGayhey teamed up for a block that tied the set.
The second set may have tired Springfield as the third set was not as difficult for the Ephs. It was the set that concluded the sweep, but Springfield never hung their heads.
“We never gave up. Not even when we were close to losing the third set, and I think that says a lot about our team,” said Pride sophomore Meghan Kinee.
Putting the Pride’s second set fight aside, Kinee’s most valuable player of the tournament honors would be a definite bright spot throughout the set.
“It felt good knowing that I did my job so that my teammates could do theirs,” Kinee said.
The people around her clearly saw the success she was having.
“She did a great job,” Long said.
“She played some great defense.” Kinee had six digs and was all over the court hustling and communicating for the Pride.
The end result brought the Pride to a respectable 14-5 while Williams improved to 16-1 on the season.
Springfield has to move forward and improve. Despite the loss, they are still looked as one of the biggest threats in the region.
“There’s a group of teams in our region that are up there,” McGayhey said. “Springfield’s certainly one.”
Springfield now moves forward to the end of the regular season and knows exactly what game plan they need to execute in order to make noise in the post-season.
“If we want to make it to the NCAA tournament and go far against high-level teams, we have to embrace opportunity and just play our game,” Kinee said.