Women’s volleyball team starts off strong with pair of wins

By Leo Kagan, Staff Writer

Emerson’s women’s volleyball team dropped just one set in its season opener, beating both Simmons and Manhattanville College in a Sunday doubleheader on the Lions’ home court. 

The team’s would-be first game against Assumption University was postponed last Thursday due to COVID-19, allowing the Lions to make their 2022 opening remarks in the Bobbi Brown and Steven Plofker Gym. NEWMAC Second Team All-Conference selection and sophomore outside hitter, Amelia Combs—who was set to miss the match against Assumption due to injury—posted 24 kills, six aces, 23 digs, and 31 points between both Sunday games.

“I was actually injured earlier this week,” she said. “I’m happy that I was able to join the team for the first game of the season. I feel like we really kicked things off with a bang.”

The Lions faced Simmons first, displaying a strong team effort and winning three sets in a row—the same result the team had in their match against the Sharks a year to the date. The Lions played consistently, never trailing by more than three points and rarely trailing at all. 

Later in the afternoon, the Lions beat Manhattanville in four sets, losing the first and then winning three in a row. Emerson’s first victory came after extra rallies became necessary, with the Lions winning 30-28 following an attack error forced by a strike from sophomore outside hitter Isabella Chu—who also scored the kill to put the team at match point in the previous play.

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The final two sets were resolved in a more decisive fashion, with the Lions claiming superiority by scores of 25-13 and 25-15. 

“Against Simmons, we were definitely playing a little tight—first game jitters,” said head coach Ben Read. “It was nice to see us clean things up throughout the day.”

Read noted the physicality of his team compared to its opponents, pointing out the strain the Lions placed on both teams.  

“I think we were actually a more physical team than both teams we played,” Read said. “We were playing a little higher over the net when blocking and attacking. We made less errors than the team and put enough pressure on both opponents to get them out of the system and help our defense.”

The Lions totaled 10 blocks on the day and kept momentum high resulting in multiple point-scoring streaks. 

“[We had] high energy and communication,” said Combs. “It’s our first game of the season, so we’re still figuring it out. We focused on high communication to fix the errors that occurred during our play.”

Despite winning both matches, the Lions still believe they can improve. In particular, Read thinks the team can better its timing and unity on the court. 

“[We want to] clean up the hitter-setter connection,” Read said. “We have four setters and they’re all hitting off setters who have slightly different tempos. As we move forward, we’ll start to see more of the starting lineup play together to get those reps.” 

Sunday’s wins brought the Lions a little closer to their goals of qualifying for the NCAA Championship Tournament and the NEWMAC Championship tournament. Now, the team looks forward to its next game, which will be at home against Brandeis University—the team who served the Lions their first loss last season in a thrilling five-set match—this Thursday at 6 p.m. 

“We’re going to take what we did here today, and we’re just going to keep growing,” said Combs. “This game shows what we need to work on, so we’ll just take this as a first step, and we’ll just keep building on it.”