The women’s volleyball team (22-1, 8-0 NESCAC) takes on its biggest NESCAC competitor, Wesleyan University (15-3, 8-0 NESCAC) tonight at 8 p.m. The two teams are both undefeated in the NESCAC. They are battling for first place in the league and the rights to host the championships next week. The Cardinals are the defending champions and knocked the third seeded Polar Bears out of the tournament last year.
“[There is] added emotiontional pressure [because] the game is the decider of the championship weekend. Hosting is always fun, and is something that we have been working towards.” said Head Coach Erin Cady. “But we’re going to try to look past that … and take it like every other game that we have been in this year and play it point by point.”
The Polar Bears are coming off a perfect 3-0 record at the Hall of Fame Invitational this past weekend in Massachusetts that launched them into the top 25 DIII teams in the nation, according to the last American Volleyball Coaches’ Association poll. They are currently ranked 24th nationally and second in the NCAA DIII Regional Rankings, while the Cardinals are currently sixth in the regional rankings.
Cady acknowledged that the game against Wesleyan will be the team’s hardest yet, but she believes that the depth and variety in the team’s lineups are two strengths that will bring the Polar Bears success as they close the 2018 regular season.
“What’s really awesome about our team this year is [that] we have a lot of people contributing, whether it be relying on some people on the bench to come in for a key place. I think that’s been a strength of ours and what’s really caused some great team chemistry,” said Cady. “Everyone can go in and contribute in their own way.”
To get ready for its game against Wesleyan, the team has been dissecting its performance this past weekend and watching a lot of film of practices and past games.
“I’m spending the beginning of the week taking time to correct anything we need to that we saw from the weekend before,” said Cady. “And then the second half of the week really diving into planning for what we’re going to see against Wesleyan.”
The game is clearly a high stakes matchup, especially as the team has not had the privilege of hosting the championships since 2015, when the Polar Bears took the NESCAC title in a 3-2 win over Williams.
However, when asked about the strategies she uses to lessen stress surrounding her players, Cady said that being present in the moment is key.
“I think the big thing is staying in the moment and being present with what we’re working on at that moment,” said Cady. “So whether it be we’re working in practice a certain strategy, but we’re in the game. Just knowing that there’s a lot of volleyball to play and to have each point be its own little mini game.”
After tonight’s game against Wesleyan, the team will finish its weekend and the regular season with a match against Connecticut College at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum and with the right crowd behind you, [it] can really make a difference,” said Cady.