Blake Arena has been home to innumerable amounts of Springfield College athletic successes over this past season. For the Springfield College women’s volleyball team, they own an unblemished 10-0 record at home this season, as part of a 21-6 overall record heading into their final game of the regular season this Saturday
The offense has average 11.65 kills and 11 assists per set, while the Pride back line has average 15 digs per set as well.
Freshman setter Sara Labadorf has been running the middle to almost perfection, totaling 831 assists while only commiting 13 errors.
Underclassmen have been major contributors for Springfield, who is receiving votes in the latest Division III Top 25 polls.
Sophomore Camryn Bancroft has produced 208 kills and 72 total blocks, which has allowed her to be a centerpiece for the front line. She has also lead the team with a solid .348 hitting percentage, which qualifies as the highest of any starter.
Freshman outside hitter, Ashley Tanner has contributed 110 kills, as the Pride has four players with over 100 kills on the season.
“We play our best when we are all mentally and physically engage so that comes with communicating and having a short term memory,” said senior Jen Donnelly.
Having a short term memory has helped the team overcome adversities during the year.
With only two players hitting above a .247 hitting percentage, the team has struggled at times with communicating and trusting each other.
Through rough stretches in the season, one senior has taken it upon herself to step up when the team needs her the most.
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One of the mottos that head coach Moira Long has preached to the team is “serve tough and pass the ball.”
This mentality has lead the team to totalling 1,429 digs throughout their 27 matches.
Donnelly has collected a team-high 272 digs to lead the front line of the Pride.
“I think that I lead by example,” said Donnelly. “When I am playing to the best of my ability, we are able to play cohesively as a team.”
She has been a focal point for the Pride offense, as Donnelly has racked up a team high 267 kills, while accumulating a total of 975 kills throughout her career with the Pride.
Her leadership has also been demonstrated through various practices over her career.
When things are not going well during a practice, the team preaches the idea of coming together rather than going apart.
Members would stop practice, come together in a huddle, and discuss how to fix any problems that they are having.
Long has noted numerous occasions where Donnelly would be one of the people gathering the team together during practices.
“She has been a leader since sophomore year,” she said after the Pride’s home match on September 11. “This year she is very consistent emotionally, mentally and physically. She has done a great job setting the standard for teammates in practices, by stepping up in moments to voice when the team needs to be better executing.”
Donnelly’s leadership will be crucial in leading the Pride as they prepare for the NEWMAC playoffs, starting next Tuesday.
Trust. Communication. Confidence. Fight.
These are the four core values of the Pride.
The team has gone through tough parts of their schedule where they lost some of their communication and trust with each other.
Having a short term memory and taking it one game at a time will be crucial for Springfield to stay focused on what is directly ahead of them.
“One of our coaches working with the team said, ‘Celebrate what you have accomplished, but then put it aside and move on to the next thing,’” said Long earlier in the season.
It will be essential for Pride hitters to put their .227 overall hitting percentage behind them and trust their setter.
With Labadorf running the offense as smoothly as she has all year, the Pride hitters will need to have confidence to convert on their attempts.
With Springfield getting back on track with a win on Tuesday after losing four of their last five games, look for the team to rely back on their core values to continue to gain momentum as they head into the tournament.
As long as the team continues to trust and communicates with each other, the Pride can go as far as any team in the NEWMAC playoffs.
Photo courtesy of Jack Margaros