By Sean Savage
What can Springfield College women’s volleyball do for an encore from their successful 2021-22 season? Tacking on another conference win early in their season is a step in the right direction.
The Pride defeated Wellesley 3-0 (25-11, 25-22, 25-11) on Saturday at Blake Arena.
Springfield knocked on the proverbial doorstep early, holding to the team’s core values.
“Our mindset for today stemmed from our values of trust, purpose, and fight,” said Springfield women’s volleyball head coach Moira Long. “Before the match, we really wanted to hone in on those things,” she added.
Those values stated their worth early, as the Pride opened with an early 11-5 run. A scorching kill from sophomore Riley Donahue forced Wellesley into the first timeout of the game.
“We trusted ourselves and teammates from the gate,” Long said.
The Pride stayed calm, cool and collected through the first set. Even when a shot flew over Donahue’s head, all coach Long had to say was “easy, easy, settle, settle,” helping the Pride keep their composure early in the match.
Long’s reassurance fueled the set for the Pride, winning 25-11.
The start of the second set did not resemble the first. Springfield was forced into a timeout after falling to an early five-point deficit, 8-3.
“I gave them two things they needed to focus on – one of them being service reception; maybe we need to talk a little bit sooner. Also, we needed to shift on the block and put on a really good press.”
More apparent hustle was put in by the Pride after the timeout, as they evened the score at 12-12. The Pride took its first lead of the set following a kill from junior Elsie Phillips. The score was now 16-15 in favor of the Pride.
The demeanor continued to shift when Donahue captivated the crowd as she screamed, “LETS GO,” following her kill to put Springfield ahead 19-17.
Head coach Dorothy Webb and the Blue called their first timeout of the second set the following play. That timeout seemed to reset the Blue as they pushed the score to 23-22, now only trailing by one point.
Springfield also called another timeout in hopes of closing out the set.
“I did not want to overload them with too much tactical information. Oftentimes when things are going poorly, it is just a lack of communication,” Long said.
The back-and-forth action finally ended with a blazing serve from sophomore Jamie Albrecht. The serve grazed the net but was too overpowering for the net and the Blue to handle, proving the Pride victorious in set two, 25-22.
The third set continued to be a battle for both teams, with a score of 7-6 Pride. However, it was not long after that when sophomore Morgan Stafford hustled to the ball, setting Albrecht up for a kill with a pass behind and over her head. This play and Phillips’ two solo blocks helped spark a 14-1 run.
Wellesley called one last desperation timeout in an attempt to turn things around at 19-10.
It was too little too late.
The Pride went on a 4-1 run to get over the last hill of the game, where two of those points were aces from Sophomore Natalie Billet.
Springfield improved their record to 7-1 while earning their second consecutive win in conference play. The Pride will carry their momentum into a Tuesday night conference game at Babson.
Going into their next game, coach Long pointed out, “I think we need to focus on what we do well. The transfer into the next game is going to be the takeaways from today,” she said. “This is what happens when we adhere to those core values and when we are forward thinking.”
As for the rest of the season, the Pride will “take one step at a time,” according to coach Long. “This team is very different from last year.”
Photo Courtesy of Springfield Athletics