In twilight, playoffs still possible

by Jillian Gearin / Beacon Correspondent • October 29, 2014

Freshman libero Sam Harton (right) brought club experience to the Lions.
Freshman libero Sam Harton (right) brought club experience to the Lions.

In a season that will likely end in a playoff berth for the Lions, it was the team’s younger players who set the foundation for success.

This year’s team is made up of seven freshmen, five sophomores, and two juniors. 

In the 2013 season, the team had three conference wins, but also saw the departure of three seniors. 

“Last year, we had more team things to work out instead of being able to focus on the games,” said sophomore middle blocker Annie Hall. 

The incoming freshmen had big shoes to fill, as they needed to replace the three graduating players and other key veterans—current seniors Alex Lynn and Kat Rice—who did not return this year. Rice was chosen as rookie of the year in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference as a freshman.

Since the recruits had high-level experience, Read said the coaching staff was able to focus on the team instead of teaching individual skills. Many of the rookies came from prestigious club teams. One was libero Sam Harton, a native of Cartersville, Georgia, whose club team, A5 Mizuno, came in third place in the highest division at the national tournament. 

“They exceeded expectations this year because of the young players,” said Athletic Director Pat Nicols. “They stepped up to really help the team.”

Women’s volleyball has seen the most success of any team at Emerson this fall semester, with a 4-5 NEWMAC record and 15-15 record overall. 

“Our goal was to finish with a .500 winning percentage in conference play,” said Read. “We need one more win to accomplish our team goals and to make it to the playoffs.”

Harton said one highlight of the season was defeating Wheaton, which currently has a 5-4 record, in three sets.

The team’s performance at the University of Massachusetts Boston tournament earlier this month was a testament to the potential of the group.

“We competed well, but came out of it with negative energy, because we played tough teams and came up short,” Read said. “After this we lost two matches.”

On Oct. 21, the women once again showed their potential by taking one set from Coast Guard. Although they lost the match, Read said they proved they should be taken seriously in the NEWMAC.

“These games show that when our team performs at the top capacity, we can surprise people,” said Read.

But the season overall was a rollercoaster ride for the team.

“In the beginning of the year, we played a lot of non-conference games, so we were not as focused,” said Hall, a visual and media arts major. “Once the season progressed into the NEWMAC, we improved.”

With the season winding down, the team has one more conference game and one non-conference match. The conference game on Saturday, Nov. 1 against Clark University will determine if the team makes the playoffs. If it does, it will likely next face Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an away game.

Looking beyond the playoffs into next year, Read said he is optimistic about the young team, and hopes to work with them to become more consistent and garner more wins.

“We are looking forward to more recruits, and since there are no seniors this year we are planning on coming out strong,” said Read.  “We still have another level our team can go to.”

With the commitment of the team’s athletes, Nicols said their skill level can only improve.

“The girls have made their stand in the NEWMAC as a team to be reckoned with,” Nicols said, “and have gained respect.”