The Bowdoin volleyball team opened its season with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the University of Southern Maine (3-1) on Wednesday. The exciting five-set matchup put an end to the Huskies’ three-game win streak, and the team hopes to capitalize on this victory as it heads into a three-game weekend.
While the strong seasonal debut bodes well for the Polar Bears’ prospects this year, they have already faced challenges. The team graduated a substantial class of five seniors last spring—four of whom hold multiple program records—and an injury has taken captain and setter Clare McInerney ’18 off the court.
Much of the team’s resilience in the face of such obstacles can be attributed to the large role that the class of six first years has played thus far.
“These first years are stepping up to positions that we didn’t think they could take this early,” said McInerney. “They’re honestly just transitioning into the team so rapidly. We lose seniors every year, and it’s just a transition between the team that we were last year and now. We’re a different team now.”
First year Kate Kiser has wasted no time transitioning to the team, setting most of the team’s offensive attacks and totaling 54 assists, seven kills and three service aces in her collegiate debut. Sydney Salle ’19 and Michelle Albright ’18 also played crucial roles in the team’s victory as they led the team’s offense with 17 and 15 kills respectively.
Head Coach Erin Cady enters her third season at the helm of the team this fall with a program-high .732 record over her first two years here. In her first season with the team, Cady led the Polar Bears to the program’s best-ever season, which included a NESCAC title and a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
“Those performances are in our minds, but they’re telescopic goals,” said McInerney. “We’re trying to not get too caught up in the distant future. We’re simply trying to do better than we did yesterday and improve.”
However, the team is aware of the challenges that its short season poses, especially coming off of a relatively short preseason and late season start. Most other Division III programs, such as the University of Southern Maine, had already been playing for almost a week by the time Bowdoin played its first game.
“We only have eight weeks until NESCAC playoffs,” said McInerney. “And then it’s like do or die. It’s just the rapid pace that things have to move at. One of the challenges that I foresee is the difficulty of seeing the far off and separating it from the present.”
Even with these challenges, the team has high expectations and remains focused on its performance and improvement.
“The difference between the team that started and the team that is going to practice in a couple of minutes is pretty amazing,” said McInerney. “I’m just really excited about the potential of the team this season.”
The Polar Bears travel to Massachusetts to face Brandeis Friday at 6 p.m. in their first match of the New England Invitational this weekend.