When the women’s volleyball team lost its first two conference matches of the season, Caroline Bond said she refused to panic.
The Lion’ freshman setter dominated the team’s next three games on her way to a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week award. She tallied 111 assists and 14 kills, setting the team up for three straight wins.
“We had a lot of conversations about what was going wrong,” Bond said in an interview. “We weren’t really getting the outcomes that we wanted, and I think we boiled it down to we were just thinking too much.”
Bond said the turning point of the season came against Babson College when the Lions pulled off a shocking upset against the nationally ranked team. Bond tallied 45 assists in the match.
Head coach Ben Read said Bond’s development played a large part in the Lion’ success this season.
“She’s really listening to the feedback we’re giving as far as looking at matchups on the other side of the court, changing the tempo with the ball, and adjusting her sets based on the hitter,” Read said.
Moira Brennan ‘19, the team’s setter for four years, totaled 3,025 career assists and averaged 9.29 assists per set in her senior season. When she graduated, Bond occupied her starting spot.
Bond said she does not feel any stress on the court despite being a freshman with a significant role in the offense
“I think it’s healthy pressure,” Bond said. “I put pressure on myself because I want to perform the best that I can for my team. I try to come out every time and give it my all.”
Not only is she a standout player statistically, but Bond’s stats are ranked close to the top of the conference. Her 433 assists places her fourth in the NEWMAC, and she is third in assists per set with 9.02.
When assessing her play so far this year, Bond said she started off strong but began to struggle once classes began.
“I felt like I was letting the team down because I didn’t think I was playing my best,” Bond said. “Then I had a realization and was like ‘Okay, just do what you know how to do. Just play volleyball.’”
Read said he could tell Bond would fit well on the Lions when he saw her at Winterfest, a recruiting event, during her junior year in high school. Read said Bond was on a list of prospects he was evaluating at the event.
“I hadn’t reached out to her because she was a junior at the time, and I was so focussed on the senior class,” Read said. “I was going to reach out to her a couple weeks later.”
Before Read could reach out Bond, she emailed him. Her familiarity with the school impressed Read.
“As a downtown Boston school like us with a volleyball program, we get interest from a decent amount of people, but sometimes they haven’t quite done the research,” Read said.
Now that she has assumed a starting role on the team, Read said he trusts Bond to run the offense.
“The setter is touching every ball, she is running our offense, and she’s the quarterback of the team,” said Read. “[She is] the Offensive Player of the Week Award because she is leading our offense to [wins] on the court.”