Women’s volleyball clinch spot in playoffs

The women’s volleyball team will set their sights on a playoff run after defeating Springfield College in four sets on Saturday. 

The Lions clinched the sixth seed in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference playoffs with the win. The NEWMAC preseason poll placed the Lions eighth in the conference, which head coach Ben Read said helped the team adopt an underdog mentality. 

Springfield battled against the Lions in the first set and tied the game at 24 before committing two straight attacking errors to give the Lions the set win. 

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“We came into today with a lot of energy, because it was our last conference [regular season] game,” freshman setter Caroline Bond said in a post-game interview. “It was at home so we were super stoked about that.

Bond said the energy the team plays with can be hard to sustain at times. 

“When you come in with a lot of energy, it’s easy to play in lulls,” Bond said. “It’s easy to go up and then come back down.”

The Lions lost the second set 25-23 and trailed by as much as five.

“They did some things that are a little bit different, and that kind of stressed us out a little bit,” Read said in a post-game interview. 

The Lions regained the momentum in the third set. They took a 7-6 lead early in the set and never lost it, winning 25-16.    

“Tips were killing us all game,” Bond said. “We made a couple of adjustments, so once we started picking up tips I was able to move the ball around more offensively and get more leaders involved.”

The fourth set featured eight lead changes, and with the score tied at 22, the Lions scored three straight points to win the match. Freshman middle blocker Jillian Kay recorded nine kills in the match, including the game-winning kill. After the game, Bond said she considered Kay to be the most valuable player of the match. 

Read credited his players for making adjustments throughout the match. 

“They started serving to some tougher spots, which worked out really well,” Read said. “We got them out of their system, which made it easier to defend their pin hitters instead of their middles who were really successful.” 

Junior outside hitter Grace Tepper totaled 20 kills in the match, and Bond recorded 43 assists and 17 digs. Freshman right-side hitter Rebecca Polsky totaled 11 kills and three digs. Read said he is impressed with how Polsky has filled in for junior right-side hitter Albany Alexander, who is dealing with an injury. 

The Lions will face the third-seeded Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The time of the game has not been announced. On Oct. 29, MIT swept Emerson 3-0, but the Lions lost by four or fewer points in all three sets. Read said the team is using the matches against MIT and Springfield to build on their success. 

“Looking back at MIT and looking at [the Springfield game], despite getting the win, we know we’re still not executing at our best, but we’re really close to them,” Read said. 

The Lions won seven of their last nine games of the regular season, and freshman defensive specialist Anna Phillips said the team is carrying that momentum into the playoffs. 

“I think we’re really confident going into these next few games,” Phillips said in an interview. “If we keep our energy up, play our game, have fun, and stay relaxed, we will roll over teams any day of the week.”

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