Trust, purpose, resilience, legacy, and toughness are the five words that create the values that run the Springfield College women’s volleyball program and helped them achieve a 3-2 victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on Saturday.
Late in the fifth set, Springfield found themselves on the edge of their seats. Down 11-9, as the ball soars through the air, inching closer to the bleachers in Blake Arena. Every voice in the dome and even every player on the court stopped as the ball reached its apex, with the exception of sophomore libero, Anagabrielle Sanchez. From the middle of the floor, Sanchez sprinted into action and dove towards the sideline pancaking her hand flat on the floor, and popped the ball back up into play.
It was that kind of resilience and energy that became the deciding factor in the match.
“[Sanchez] was the difference maker in [set five] with her energy,” Springfield head coach Moira Long said.
The array of energy that fills Blake Arena when the Pride women’s volleyball team is on the court is unmatched by any other event. Whether it’s digging into their repertoire of cheers after each point or the continuous chatter before the ball flies over the net, Springfield brings their best attitude and effort on every play.
On the bench, the energy ceases to muffle. Each one of those players is still a part of every move throughout the match. If you look just beyond the bench, you’ll see the yellow string of a miniature volleyball net held taught between white plastic pipe. On this net are dream catchers placed by each athlete. The net symbolizes their five core values.
“All of our names are on that net,” junior Jen Donnelly said. “After every practice, we put our names [on the net] where we think how well we played and how well we’re upholding the values.”
The Lady Pride found themselves down early when WPI took a close victory in set one. Springfield retaliated and took the next two sets, finding themselves up 2-1 in the set count.
To begin set four, WPI jumped out to a four-to-nothing run before the swinging arm of Donnelly snagged the Pride’s first point of the set. Behind the service of sophomore setter Daniela Detore, Springfield thrusted a four-point run of their own, only to be countered by a six-point WPI streak. Later in the set, a kill by high-flying junior, Hayley Kmetz put Springfield on 18 points, but their scoring for the frame would end there. WPI’s Casey Hunt tallied two of the Engineers final four points to pull out a set victory, 25-18.
The Engineers began the scoring in the final frame, but the Pride notched six straight points to own a four-point lead. The set from there was a trading game. WPI would win a point, then Springfield followed suit.
With the score at 11-9 in favor of the Engineers, Long decided to call a timeout.
Keeping composure, the Pride retook the court recognizing the severity of the point. On that first play, Sanchez created her momentum shifting save to keep spirits alive. WPI would go on to take the next point and command a 12-10 lead, however, Springfield dug into their core values and united as a team.
Headlined by three attack errors from the Engineer’s Casey Hunt, Springfield took a 13-12 lead. Junior, defensive specialist, Hannah Lozano served four straight points to end the game, with the final two kills coming off of the ruthless swing of Donnelly.
Donnelly finished the contest at the top of the leader board in the kills department notching 17. Kmetz added 14 kills of her own at a .316 clip.
“Our communication was really consistent and we had a lot of energy and fire on the court,” Kmetz said.
Just prior to her post-game interview, Long was being congratulated on a hard-fought win and wasn’t sure how to describe the performance. However, she gave one word to describe her team: resilient.
The Lady Pride will take on Clark University, a team that they have notoriously had difficulty with in previous seasons, on Tuesday in the Mecca.