The fifth-seeded women volleyball team’s (13–10; 6–4 NESCAC) season came to an end last Friday after a 3–0 loss to fourth-seeded Amherst College (14–7; 7–3 NESCAC) in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament hosted by Wesleyan University. Although this is the first time since 2010 that Bowdoin has failed to advance past the first round of NESCAC playoffs, the team remains proud of its performance and has high hopes for its future.
“I think nobody’s upset at the way we lost,” outside hitter Jenna Robbins ’23 said. “Everybody was playing really well.… We were having lots of fun and nobody held back, but Amherst just happened to show up better.”
Robbins added that each set felt extremely competitive. Bowdoin fell by set scores of 17–25, 23–25, and 19–25.
“Even though we didn’t have the result we wanted in the NESCAC tournament, we still all left that game feeling sad that our season was over but also really proud of everything we accomplished,” setter and captain Ella Haugen ’23 said.
Leading up to the NESCAC tournament, the Polar Bears were gaining momentum. During the second half of the season, they won eight out of twelve games.
“This year, going into the playoffs, we really focused on controlling the things we can control and letting go of things we couldn’t,” Haugen said. “The situation was different than we were used to. We were playing on two courts side by side, which is not normal for college volleyball. There was a lot happening. It was a different environment.”
Prior to the tournament, the team trained specifically for such a chaotic environment by incorporating sudden, random whistle blasts into its practices.
While the quarterfinal loss was disappointing, it did not shake the team’s confidence in its potential to succeed in the future.
“We didn’t have quite as high [of a] win percentage [entering the tournament] as in past years,” Haugen said. “However, that gave us the opportunity to reflect on what is important to us and what our identity is as Bowdoin volleyball. Regardless of wins, losses, results … I’m really proud of the way that this team rallied around each other.”
Next year, the team will lose two seniors.
“I think a lot of the underclassmen are going to keep that positive energy and create a really good culture for the team,” Robbins said. “It’s always a growth process. I think the underclassmen here are going to do an awesome job with that.”
Haugen, who was named Second Team All-NESCAC on Thursday, will return to play in the fall.
“When seniors leave, you don’t really know what is going to change,” Haugen said. “I think that this team did a really good job leaning into creating our own environment, [and] we’ll do it again next year.”
Libero Maya White ’25 says the team is using the loss as all the more motivation for next season.
“I’m happy that I have two more years here to win us another championship and get to the finals,” White said. “Obviously, it sucks in the moment, but now that we’re out of it, it just makes us that much more competitive and that much more ready to win next season.”
However, the Polar Bears will enter the next season as the underdogs.
“Next season, we’re gonna have a much lower ranking,” Robbins said. “Working through that mentality all season … will be a challenge.”
Haugen believes that, at the end of the day, the team has the talent to succeed.
“I wouldn’t want to be stepping on to the court with any other group of people, regardless of how the season went,” Haugen said. “I would choose this group again, ten times out of ten.”