Following a quiet 18 months, women’s volleyball made a striking comeback in its first home game of the season against Wesleyan University last Friday, defeating the Cardinals 3-1. Despite some adjustments due to COVID-19 protocols, the team was ecstatic to return to Morrell Gymnasium with an eventful comeback. With a current record of 2-0, players hope to replicate last Friday’s success for the rest of the season.
Lauren Lange ’24 is one of nine first year and sophomore players who are new to the full athletic schedule this season. Like her teammates, Lange was anxious yet excited about taking to the court this season following an unprecedented first year at the College.
“We’ve waited a long time for this. COVID[-19] has made us realize that we really want to play and that we should seize this opportunity now that we have a chance,” Lange said.
Lange’s sentiments ring true for captain Cori Gray ’22, who finds herself and other upperclass teammates responsible for helping new players acclimate to the team’s social atmosphere and culture. Nearly half of the 20-person team has never played in a college game before. This poses challenges which have required a new level of adaptability in practices and training, not to mention the College’s COVID-19 protocols, which require them to wear masks inside.
“Coming back to a real college game … there’s no training that can prepare you for what that’s like,” Gray said. “We tried to get everyone as acclimated as they can and as quickly as possible. We are very fortunate to have a fairly regular season in terms of travel and play. Everyone shows up ready and willing to do whatever it takes to make it possible to have a season,”
Based on the positive outcome of this season’s first home game, it is clear that the team’s dedication has paid off. In only four weeks together, the team had participated in a multitude of player-facilitated bonding activities.
“We have team dinners and other team bonding activities that made sure we were close,” Lange said. “In volleyball, the most important thing is knowing your team in order to be successful, so team bonding was a big thing for us.”
Another contributing factor to the team’s success was the turnout of the home crowd. Polar Bears showed up en masse for the game, filling Morrell Gymnasium with cheers and words of encouragement.
“Hopefully, people realize how fun it is to watch volleyball and come back. It was so heartwarming to see people back in Morrell and enjoying volleyball, having as much fun as we are,” Gray said.
Head Coach Erin Cady found the game to be especially motivating for herself and special for the team.
“The home crowd was amazing on Friday night,” Cady said. “That was a huge factor for us—to have that support for our players, to see their classmates supporting them in something they love is something that we want to keep pushing for.”
The team has high hopes for the remainder of the season, looking toward this weekend’s home game against Tufts, which will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m..
“Come see us this Saturday,” Cady said. “We need all the fans that we can get.”