After a mixed start to the season, the volleyball team swept its three home matches this weekend to secure a NESCAC playoff bid. The team came out of the weekend with a 3-1 win against Colby (5-17 overall, 0-8 NESCAC) and two 3-0 wins against Bates (7-12 overall, 3-5 NESCAC) and Emerson (16-9 overall).

The series of matches featured strong play from Caroline Flaharty ’20, who averaged 4.3 kills per set and had three service aces over the three games. The performance earned her NESCAC Player of the Week honors.

“The big thing with [Flaharty] is her consistency,” said Head Coach Erin Cady. “She’s constantly bringing a very strong offense and able to play all around, so defensively she’s also able to be an offensive threat from the back row. With her consistency and her calmness on the court, that’s definitely earned her the right for NESCAC Player of the Week.”

Besides individual performances, Cady was particularly impressed by the team’s offensive development this weekend.

“There was a lot more flow to it, which was obviously set up by a strong defense,” said Cady. “But I think that was one thing­—that we really started to get a flow and really get comfortable with running several different plays.”

The team is now ranked seventh in the NESCAC after winning its last four games, its longest win streak of the season. Last year, the team won the NESCAC tournament and finished the regular season with a record of 20-4, however, the players aren’t letting the difference in record define their prospects.

“We’re a different team this year,” said captain Quincy Leech ’17. “People have been talking about our ‘mixed results,’ but we ignore it because what worked for us last year may not be the same thing that works for us this year.”

This weekend the team will travel to Missouri for the Washington University at St. Louis tournament—one that they have never participated in before. The team tries to take part in an out-of-region tournament every other year in order to face tough opponents it would not normally play.

“The other benefit to travelling outside of region [is] representing Bowdoin outside of our New England region,” said Cady. “I think [that] is huge from a school standpoint—building pride and playing tough teams is just going to make us stronger.”

Leech added that it would also provide exposure for players looking to get recruited to a national or professional team.

This year, the Polar Bears will face Millikin and Illinois Wesleyan in addition to Texas-Dallas and Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which are nationally ranked No. 8 and No. 25, respectively.

“There’s really no easy match coming into this weekend, so that’s going to be a challenge, but it’s very very exciting and I know our players are ready,” Cady said. “Just making sure that we’re taking care of our minds and bodies to get ready—I think that would be our biggest challenge.”

In the long run, both Leech and Cady are looking at the weekend as solid preparation for NESCAC and possibly NCAA playoffs.

“We have four matches, which is really tough to do in one weekend,” said Cady. “So physically and mentally, it is going to be taxing on us, but to push through, to make us stronger [will] prepare [us] for the rest of NESCAC and NESCAC Playoffs.”

“Staying humble but realizing that anything is possible will be key going into the postseason,” said Leech. “Everything we have done up until then will have been preparation, but as long as we’re working our butts off and competing with grit we will have found success.”