strongJamie Bogert, Beacon Staff/strong
The ball never left Emerson women’s volleyball head coach Ben Read’s eyes Saturday. Between squatting with clipboard in hand and gliding up and down the court as if he were ready to jump on it next to his players, Read led the Lions through a close match against conference foe Rivier.
As the Lions opened up play in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Saturday with matches against Anna Maria College and Rivier, Read didn’t miss a beat.
Neither did his team.
After dominating GNAC newcomer Anna Maria 3-0 in its opening match of the day, Emerson was set to take on the Rivier Raiders, a team that eliminated the Lions in the GNAC semi-finals last season.
Emerson’s energy was high, consistent with its coach’s, as it got revenge versus the Raiders, taking the match 3-2.
“I like to go ahead and almost be an extra person out there,” Read said. “Talk to them about what’s going on, just add my extra input as plays go on.”
The Lions needed all the vigor they could get, playing their fourth match in four days. With the Raiders taking them to the brink of defeat Saturday, the Lions had to claw back from a 2-1 deficit to get the win.
“For the very first day of the GNAC conference, it was a championship atmosphere,” Read said. “It was really close, point for point, and we did really well.”
Every point was crucial for the Lions. And while the action was close, and the play was competitive, what was almost as notable was the difference in coaching styles.
On this day, Read got the upper hand against Rivier coach Craig Kolek.
As Read scaled the sideline, urging his team on, Kolek took a much more reserved approach, sitting in his chair on the Rivier bench, calmly chewing his gum.
The coaches did find a way to become acquainted, though.
In the midst of a set, Kolek finally left his seat to argue with the referee over a call. Read, already on his feet, walked towards the center of the court, saying, “That makes up for the lift,” referring to a call Read felt the referees missed on his side.
The coach’s teams also differed in strategy.
Rivier’s Kenna Finlayson led all players with 28 kills, while she received 84 balls from setter Caitie Callahan. On the Lions side of the net, Megan Kaplon led the way with 17 kills, although the Emerson attack was much more balanced.
“We saw that she was getting the majority of the sets from previous matches, so we expected her to do that in this game,” said senior Jessica Drumright of Finlayson. Drumright sets and plays right side for the Lions and said Emerson was prepared for Finlayson on Saturday.
Lions’ libero Brandy Eggerman led all players with 27 digs, with teammate Kaplon close behind with 24.
“It’s tough when you play teams that are more or less under your playing level,” Eggerman said, referring to the first match against Anna Maria. “It’s hard to keep that energy up for the next game, but I think everyone did a good job overall.”
Down 2-1 against Rivier, and with their backs against the wall, the Lions won the fourth set 25-23. Then, they took momentum into the fifth and deciding set, sending the Raiders back to New Hampshire with a 15-7 win.
The Lions return to action as they play tonight Sept. 22 in a non-conference game against Bridgewater State.
emBogert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @j_bogert. Evan Sporer, sports editor of the/em emBeacon and member of the Emerson volleyball team, did not edit this article./em