By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College women’s volleyball team defeated Wheaton 3-1 on Thursday night at Blake Arena.
Springfield faced their first conference opponent of the year, but they arrived at the court with the same mental approach.
“I think every match we go into with the same mindset,” said Springfield women’s volleyball head coach, Moira Long. “I think if you change and say ‘Oh, alright it’s a conference game!’ it maybe puts a little pressure on, whereas ultimately it should just be volleyball. Volleyball is volleyball no matter who you’re playing.”
Whichever approach Springfield took seemed to be working out of the gate. They began the match by getting out to a 10-5 first set lead and forcing a Wheaton timeout. The Pride were able to ride the set out for a 25-15 set win. The set featured multiple kills from four different Springfield players, as Camryn Bancroft, Natalie Billet, Kylie Wixted, and Jamie Aldrecht all had two or more. Aldrecht was especially ready to contribute, as this was her first career collegiate game.
It was more of the same in the match’s second set, as Springfield brought themselves to an 11-5 lead to start it, then cruised to a 25-18 set victory.
All momentum seemed to be going the Pride’s way heading into the third set. Yet, Wheaton was able to turn the tides. They started with a 7-2 lead to force a Springfield timeout. The timeout did not seem to reset the Pride effectively enough, as Wheaton was able to extend their lead to 17-6 at a point. They ended up winning the set comfortably at 25-16. Coach Long noted exactly what went awry for the Pride in the third set.
“We had 17 unforced errors in set 3,” said Long. “We were just taking rips at balls and hoping we were going to find something.”
Springfield was able to get back on schedule for the fourth set, with much of that beginning with senior Ashley Tanner. She had kills for each of the Pride’s first three points of the set and had the second most kills of all the players in the match.
“I thought Ashley Tanner did a really good job,” said Long. “She stayed in the back row, she got a lot of balls — she just brought a lot of energy and a lot of fire.”
When it came to closing the game out, the game turned to Springfield’s regular point-scorers. Middle blocker Bancroft and outside hitter Billet retrieved each of their last six kills, with Billet finishing the match with two consecutive kills.
Springfield improved their record to 8-0, while earning their first win in conference play. They will continue conference play this Saturday at Wellesley, before returning to Blake Arena on Tuesday and Thursday against Babson and Tufts.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics