By Chris Gionta
The Springfield women’s volleyball team defeated Babson on Tuesday night at Blake Arena, 3-1, winning the first, second, and fourth sets, by the score of 25-17, 25-14, and 25-20 respectively.
Entering Tuesday night, graduate student Camryn Bancroft had accumulated over 800 points in her career, with that being attributed with over 650 kills, all over the course of 76 career matches. Yet, one specific goal had not yet been accomplished in Bancroft’s decorated Springfield career; a victory over the 2018 and 2019 NEWMAC champion Babson Beavers.
Although the specific opponent was not particularly on the middle blocker’s mind, she, along with the rest of the Pride, brought a quick start to their match against Babson. They began the first set by getting out to a 12-5, with Bancroft accounting for three kills. She ended up with five total kills for the set, which led the team for that set. Springfield won the set, 25-17.
After a smooth first set from the Pride, the second set was perhaps won more comfortably. After Babson brought it within two to make it 11-9, Springfield head coach Moira Long called a timeout. From then on, the Pride went on a 14-5 run to close out the second set on a 25-14 score. Overall in the set, Springfield was the beneficiary of 12 serve/attack errors from Babson.
Just like that, Springfield was a set victory away from defeating Babson, whom the program had been on a five-game losing streak against, with two of such losses coming in postseason play. However, this was not crossing many of the minds of the Pride roster, which is something Bancroft attributed to Springfield’s success this time against Babson.
“Honestly, it’s just that we have a lot of new people, and they didn’t really know the history between Babson (and Springfield),” said Bancroft. “Because we just kind of focused like it’s another team. So, in the past, it was always like, ‘Oh, we have to beat Babson, we have to beat Babson,’ and it’s always around that, instead of just acting like it’s just another team. So we’ve kind of been harping that and focusing on our side.”
In the third set, Springfield and Babson were very competitive, as it was 11-10 at one point, with neither team getting out to a lead of larger than two points. However, this suddenly changed when Springfield scored seven consecutive points to make it 18-10. After the Pride seemingly placed themselves in a very good position, Babson stormed back with a 14-3 run to make it 24-21 in the set, giving them their biggest set lead yet.
This did not discourage the Pride or the Blake Arena crowd, as after a Babson service error and a Natalie Billet kill, Babson called a timeout and the crowd stood together, anticipating the potential of a sweep for Springfield. But, despite a hard-fought rally to attempt to fend off Babson’s 25th point, the Beavers were able to close it out to make it 25-23. Yet, the imprint of the crowd was able to stay with the Pride.
“The crowd was great,” said Bancroft. “That was so fun and the energy was great.”
The tightness of the game continued in the fourth set, as about halfway through it, the score was 13-12 in Springfield’s favor. It kept trending that way to a 21-19 score, until Babson committed back-to-back attack errors to make it 23-19, Springfield. Babson came out of a timeout with a point to bring it within three, but it was their last point, as an Ashley Tanner kill and another Babson attack error sealed their fates for Tuesday night.
Matching the theme of the night, Billet led the way in the fourth set with four kills. She totaled for 16 on the night, which also led the team. The player with the second-most points was Tanner, who had 11 kills. Bancroft also had 11 kills on an efficient .429 kill percentage. Setting them all up was Sara Labadorf, who totaled for 40 assists, continuing a high level of performance that earned her NEWMAC women’s volleyball Offensive Player of the Week honors at the beginning of the year.
With this victory, Springfield’s record improved to 10-0. They will look to continue the unbeaten streak on Thursday in Blake Arena vs. Tufts.
Photo: Lucy Hamilton