Volleyball beats #1 ranked Springfield

Volleyball enjoyed another exciting and successful week, triumphing at Westfield on Wednesday and winning the Springfield College Classic tournament against Springfield (which had been ranked #1 in New England), Skidmore and Rutgers-Newark, this weekend.

On Wednesday, the team enjoyed a “convincing win” at Westfield (4-3), according to head coach Fran Vandermeer, triumphing three games to none (30-15, 30-21, 30-20).

All of the Ephwomen had a chance to play, with the first years leading the way. Joyia Chadwick ’05 registered team highs in kills and blocks, with 17 and seven, respectively, as well as five service aces. Fellow first-year standouts Robin Young ’05, who earlier this week was named NESCAC player of the week, scored 14 kills and nine digs, and Meg Demment ’05 chipped in four service aces to go along with 32 assists. Among the captains, Carmel Lyons ’03 contributed nine kills and led the team with 15 digs, and Diane Williams ’02 added seven digs in another solid performance.

Over the weekend, the Ephs’ victory at the Springfield College Classic began on Friday against the top-ranked team in New England, Springfield, which entered the match 9-1 and were playing on its home floor. The Ephwomen realized the significance of the match and entered the game fired up, winning the first two games 30-16 and 30-22.

“We were really excited,” said Young.

“We dominated play in the first two games,” added Vandermeer. “We really executed our offense very well, and our service receive kept us in system.”

The Pride bounced back to take the third game 30-25 when the Ephs experienced, “a little lull,” according to Vandermeer. “We were really tested,” said Young.

Nevertheless, the Ephs showed their heart and determination by triumphing in a nail-biting fourth game 33-31.

Individually, Akilah Rogers ’04 received special credit from Vandermeer for her clutch play, as Rogers saved three match points at critical junctures in the game. “She gave us a lift when we really needed it,” Vandermeer said.

Young and Lyons were outstanding on offense, each player contributing 16 kills apiece, a match high. Young also added 16 digs and five assists, and Lyons had five assists and four blocks.

Demment made the excellent front row play possible, with 40 assists to go with 11 digs. “Meg made very mature decisions in getting the ball to the right places, helping [Young] and [Lyons] finish the play,” said Vandermeer.

Chadwick also helped in all aspects of the game, with 12 kills, 13 digs and a team high 12 blocks. Vandermeer was impressed with Chadwick’s defense play, adding, “And Joyia, though most notice her blocks, really works hard on back row play.”

Williams also aided on defense with a solid nine digs. The emotional triumph showed the team’s desire to win. “It was really about our kids refusing to let them take the win away,” said Vandermeer.

The Ephs dominance continued the following day, when they showed no signs of mercy against foes Skidmore (4-5) and Rutgers-Newark (4-2), triumphing in three and five games, respectively. On Friday, Rutgers-Newark had beaten Skidmore 3-1.

Against Skidmore, the Ephs swept all three games (30-21, 30-25, 30-21). In the match, Lyons came through in “crunch time” according to Vandermeer, with 11 kills, 16 digs and no errors.

Also leading the way in the win were Chadwick (14 kills, nine digs and five blocks), Young (team high 16 kills and 11 digs), Demment (44 assists and five digs) and Rogers (four kills, five digs and five blocks).

After the dramatic win over Springfield and the dominating victory over Skidmore, the Ephs faced a tough emotional and physical match against Rutgers-Newark, but they succeeded in five games (26-30, 30-21, 30-27, 28-30, 15-11).

The team was fatigued during the match, but it showed its heart and unity in overcoming that challenge. “We didn’t want to let any fatigue bother us,” said Young. “We decided as a group to focus our energy on the match.”

“We showed our heart and endurance,” Vandermeer said. “We ran out of gas and struggled with our play, and to get into a rhythm, but we kept battling. We pulled out a win with a lot of heart and a lot of guts.”

Individually, Chadwick “carried a lot on the offensive load,” according to Vandermeer. Chadwick contributed a whopping 25 kills, 10 blocks and 10 digs.

Although Chadwick, who was named tournament MVP, was the most dominating player of the match, she had plenty of help from her teammates, and the win was definitely a demonstration of the power of team unity, with every player contributing significantly in some facet of the game. Vandermeer said the victory was an “entire team effort: everyone had their moments when they struggled and someone else had to step up their play.”

“I am very proud of our team this weekend,” said Vandermeer. “I am pleased with our determination, our perseverance and our mental toughness.”

The red-hot team now hopes for a large turnout for its first home match of the season, against NESCAC foe Trinity, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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