Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Women’s volleyball loses close match in NEWMAC opener

Arthur Mansavage
The women’s volleyball team huddles during a timeout against Babson.

The Brown & Plofker Gym was packed with Emerson students Tuesday, Sep. 19 to watch the No. 2 ranked Babson Beavers and No. 5 ranked Emerson Lions play in their NEWMAC opener. Both teams performed admirably, with Emerson losing 3-2. 

“We have to be better about making adjustments for the team. We repeated the same mistakes,” said Head Coach Ben Read of the loss. “[Babson] made some good changes and we didn’t.”

Babson struck first with a kill and the Lions responded with one of their own, courtesy of junior right side Parker Cummings. After that, the set went back and forth with Emerson slightly leading Babson 15-12 thanks to kills from first-year middle blocker Maya Hall, first-year outside hitter Rachel Dickerson, and junior middle/right side hitter Brooke Maynez. Babson had three service errors despite which, they came back and scored ten unanswered points to win the set 25-17. 

The second set was better for the Lions with junior outside hitter Amelia Combs notching three kills during the set. Hall, Dickerson and Cummings also contributed kills during the back-and-forth set, which had nine lead changes. Emerson gained momentum after consecutive service aces by sophomore defensive specialist Allie Montenegro, winning the set 25-19. 

Throughout the game, Coach Read let his players dictate the playbook, giving them options for what to play. Many of the players’ decisions worked out well in sets two and three.  

“I’m in my fifth year and I know him very well. I know how he works and he lets me do my thing because I feel like I have a pretty good volleyball IQ,” said graduate defensive specialist Andrea Mendez. “He gives us guidance, but he trusts us in the end, so that’s pretty awesome of him. Not a lot of coaches do that.”

The third set started rocky for the Lions with Babson going on an 8-1 run. Emerson climbed back into the set with attack errors by Babson—and nine more kills by Cummings, Hall, and Dickerson brought the deficit down to two, 12-10. 

Mendez executed the play of the game in the middle of the third set, a diving save that got the crowd cheering. After a Babson player hit the ball towards a corner in the Emerson half of the court, Mendez stretched out and pancaked the ball—extending her hand flat on the floor and letting the ball bounce off the back of her hand—right before it hit the ground.

Mendez made sure to mention that she didn’t secure the rally by herself. 

“I pancaked the ball and then my teammate kicked it, and that’s how we got it up. It was an amazing play and I’m so proud of us,” said Mendez. 

Emerson won the third set after Babson gave up an attack error with good blocking from Maya Hall and first-year setter Mia Rodriguez. 

Offense faltered for both Emerson and Babson, with 20 of the 47 plays in the fourth set being attacking or service errors. The game continued with multiple lead changes. The crowd got loud at this point, chanting “You can’t do that!” whenever Babson made a mistake. Despite the noise right behind them, Babson pulled through, ending the set with a kill. The Beavers players energetically celebrated after pushing the game to a final fifth set. 

At this point, neither team could afford to make mistakes, with just 15 points the margin between victory and defeat. Babson led by as much as four during the set, but Emerson kept it close as the teams exchanged kills. In the end, Babson won on an attack error as two of their players deflected a shot right by the net. 

Coach Read also emphasized the importance of mental stamina, something Emerson lacked in this game as they blew a 2-1 set lead. 

“Endurance is part of it and having the legs to do what we need to be doing,” said Coach Read. “I think we had it today. It was just more on the mental side of the game that we didn’t execute as much as we did.” 

Women’s volleyball has a doubleheader on Saturday, September 23 against Worcester Polytechnic Institute and UMASS Dartmouth. Their second game against UMASS Dartmouth is “You Can Play Day,” sponsored by the You Can Play Project to support LGBTQ+ people in sports.

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