The midpoint of a season is essentially the turning point. It could make you or break you, but it’s how you overcome barriers and progress that makes the team stronger by the minute.
When it comes to the Springfield College women’s volleyball team, they are sitting comfortably on top of the NEWMAC standings with an 18-4 record and are 5-1 in conference play. The team recognizes what’s at stake, but for now it’s about acknowledging where their strengths and weaknesses are and figuring out where improvements can be made.
“We keep trying to pick on the little things we need to improve upon,” said head coach Moira Long. “It’s funny, last night we handed out a homework assignment to pinpoint our strengths and weaknesses, as a team as well as personally. With that, we want to attack our weaknesses and then obviously work towards our strengths. This is how we are looking to progress.”
Through the second-year coach’s career at Springfield, Long has been blessed with high-caliber, talented players who play at an exceptional level, and one of the positions she emphasizes is the general on the floor: the setter.
“The other day I sat back after the match and stated, ‘from this point forward and the rest of my career, I always have to have two amazing setters,’” said Long. “We can never have a great one and an okay one—they both have to be amazing.”
The sophomore tandem of Whitney Miller and Molly Giannattasio provides Long with variety and flexibility. Miller and Giannattasio have contributed 769 assists over the course of the season.
On the back end of those assists are senior middle blocker Mary Consol, junior outside hitter Tessa Smolinski, and freshman outside hitter Danielle Crismani.
A second-year starter, Consol has become one of the fiercest competitors on the floor for the Pride. The intelligent hitter, Smolinski, has resumed her extraordinary play from last year, producing 273 kills and 258 digs so far this season. Newcomer Crismani provides a new dynamic to the Pride’s offense, contributing 128 kills and 234 digs.
“As our coach says, ‘The aggressor always wins,’” said Consol. “We need to continue to trust in ourselves and our teammates and have fun doing it. We play so much better when we are intense but enjoying the game.”
At the midpoint of the season, the progression of the young talent and veteran figures on the court has shown. In every aspect of volleyball, the Pride has been dominant—most noticeably, their movement and fundamentals on the defensive side.
Long’s team has gotten to nearly every ball on their way to 1,207 digs, which are necessary to keep the ball from touching the hardwood and allowing your offense to get another shot for a point.
“A little while ago we talked about valuing the ball, and that is what we are trying to do,” said Long. “We’ve worked a lot on diving and chasing down balls. Amy Entel has played unbelievable for us. She continues to improve every day as our every-game libero.”
As of late, the Pride are seen as a tough Division III opponent, winning 10 of their last 11 games. This past weekend they hosted the Tom Hay Invitational where they defeated Colby-Sawyer College, Montcalir State University, and Plymouth State University in dominating fashion.
Finishing off the season on a good note is always vital. Ultimately, Long’s team could make a statement in the upcoming NEWMAC clashes, as well as the Salisbury Invitational and the Volleyball Hall of Fame Invitational.