Opinion Sports Columns

Women’s Volleyball on the Hunt for Title

Jon Santer
Sports Editor

 

 

Meghan Zimbler/The Student
Meghan Zimbler/The Student

Ever since head coach Moira Long took over the women’s volleyball team in 2011, the Pride have known nothing but winning. Posting a 34-3 record in her first year at the helm, Springfield won their first three matches in the NCAA Tournament against Westfield State, Tufts and UMass Boston, and advanced to the Elite 8, where the Pride fell to Carthage, 3-2.

As disheartening as the end of their remarkable 2011 postseason run was, Long and company came back in 2012 and posted a just as stellar performance.

Accumulating a 27-8 record overall, the Pride fell in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference championship match to MIT, but still managed to acquire an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, where the Pride defeated Roger Williams in the first round, but fell to the Bowdoin College Polar Bears 3-2 in the second round.

In 2013, the Pride have kept up with their winning ways, and are once again on the verge of embarking into the NEWMAC Tournament, and hopefully into the NCAA Tournament again.

“Since we are home for the tournament, we are ready to crush it,” said sophomore right side hitter Kelsey McGayhey, who posted 17 kills in the match against Wellesley, a victory which provided Springfield with the No. 1 ranking in the NEWMAC. “This is our house and we are going to win it.”

Holding onto the second-ranked position in the New England regional rankings and receiving votes to breach the top 20 week in and out, the Pride are looking to finally break the ice that has forced them to exit the national tournament for the past two seasons.

“It was our goal to get the top seed in the NEWMAC all season,” said senior outside hitter Tessa Smolinski. “We are prepared for the tournament, but we also know that we can’t be letting up at all during our play.”

After a grueling 3-2 victory over previously top-ranked Wellesley College last Saturday, Long is confident that the “dog fight” victories will force her team to be more resilient when facing top teams around the country.

Upon returning from a trip to San Antonio, Texas where the Pride took on a pair of top 20 ranked teams in Trinity (of Texas) and Eastern University, Springfield has rolled through their competition, including a victory of the Volleyball Hall of Fame Invitational where the Pride defeated Williams College, Middlebury College and Trinity College (of Connecticut).

“We scheduled our trip to Texas at that point of the season for a variety of reasons,” commented Long. “We knew we were going to see some tough competition moving forward. I just think it was important to see what we needed to work on in order to be able to compete at that level. It was definitely a successful trip.”

The Pride will begin their journey into the postseason when they host MIT on Saturday at Blake Arena at 1 p.m.

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