The playoffs mean that it’s a new season for the Springfield College women’s volleyball team, which will look to recapture the NEWMAC Championship for a second straight year.
This year has been a memorable season for Moira Long and her team. Holding onto the second seed in the conference tournament with a 26-6 overall record (7-2 NEWMAC) wasn’t easy. The determination and grittiness has grown throughout this team’s demeanor and identity.
The Pride will have to dust off their 2012 record, but not to a point where they overlook their struggles on the road. The energetic and optimistic mindset must come from all facets, including the bench.
“We try to make it as supportive to the players on the floor as we can,” assistant coach Aylene Ilkson stated. “Our bench is crazy at home, and on the road they amplify that feeling 10 times more. Even when we are not home, we try to keep positive and wild as much as we can.”
The NEWMAC Tournament’s setting is in Wellesley, Mass. The 2011 champions will be competing against the winner of MIT and Babson College to start off their journey. Long’s team defeated both of these teams in the regular season in commanding fashion.
“We have only become better since we played both teams,” Ilkson commented. ”We present a balanced offense, as well as a strong defense. I think we gain some confidence going into the NEWMAC Semifinals.”
Springfield has solidified an experienced group with nine players that have been through it all. The newcomers are transitioning quickly into the Pride mentality.
The combination of outside hitters Tessa Smolinski and Daniella Crismani, middle blockers Mary Consol and Elise Brogan, opposite hitters Kelsey McGayhey and Kerry Purcell, setters Whitney Miller and Molly Giannattasio, and serving and defensive specialists Clare Henry, Amy Entel (libero) and Lindsay Runge should provide themselves leverage among all the teams in the conference.
“We can fight through games and push back at teams,” middle blocker Mary Consol stated after Saturday’s victory over Coast Guard Academy. “Especially with this taste in our mouth going into next weekend, I think we can really push ourselves.”
In order to repeat as champs, Springfield must keep up with their on-court communication and take it one game at a time. “We need to progressively get better and grow as a team through these upcoming games,” Crismani added.
The journey to the finals will not be a walk in the park by any means, especially with the possibility of clashing with top-dog Wellesley (27-4, 9-0) in the finals. Springfield’s quest to retain the title will begin on Saturday against the winner of MIT (27-5, 7-2) and Babson (22-7, 4-5) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.