Last Saturday, the volleyball team (10–8; 3–6 NESCAC) swept both Wheaton College (12–11) and Maine Maritime Academy (16–5) 3–0 on its Senior Day and penultimate weekend of regular season play.
After an up and down regular season, the team entered Saturday’s matches with an aura of calmness and excitement.
“Easy games have been hard and harder games have been easy, so we had to go in with composure, knowing that it could go either way. Luckily, [the matches] turned out to be pretty easy, just as they have historically been,” Ana Kim ’24 said. “It was a good time to test our ability to not play down to another team’s level, but rather maintain our own level.”
Maintaining a high level of play no matter the opposition’s performance has been a focus of Bowdoin volleyball this year.
“We are really proud of how we stayed true to our game and focused on our side throughout the weekend, regardless of our opponent,” captain Ella Haugen ’23 wrote in an email to the Orient. “That is something that we have really improved [on] over the course of the season, and it was great to see it click in all of our games this weekend.”
The energy brought by the fans and the high emotions of Senior Day contributed to the excitement of the team’s weekend wins.
“Playing for [the] seniors and playing in Morrell for the last time this year was a great feeling,” captain Lauren Lange ’24 said. “Throughout the game, I was just trying to live in the moment and take it in, with all our fans up there in the stands cheering for us.”
On the Friday night before Senior Day, the team played an intense match against Illinois Wesleyan University (12–12). The Polar Bears ultimately lost after a tight five-setter, but the match gave Bowdoin confidence and momentum ahead of Saturday’s doubleheader.
“We played phenomenally. People were really amped from our game [on Friday], and we came back with that fire,” Lange said.
In celebration of Senior Day, the team gave the seniors gifts before the game, decorated their lockers, surprised them with their favorite candies, made them cards and shared their favorite memories.
“It was a very emotional moment. I remember feeling so grateful to be a part of this program and thinking that there’s no group of people I would want to play my last game in Morrell with [more],” Haugen wrote. “It was definitely bittersweet, but going into that game I felt so much pride and love for this group.”
For Lange, Senior Day was an important and memorable culmination of her volleyball career.
“It means a lot to me because I’ve played volleyball for 12 years, and this is the end of the road. [Volleyball] is a huge part of my identity, so it’s sad, but I’m proud of myself for making it this far and for being a senior captain,” Lange said.
Kim, who walked onto the team her sophomore year, expressed immense gratitude for the team and her experience playing Bowdoin volleyball.
“I’m so grateful,” Kim said. “Throughout the whole ceremony and the whole game, all I could think was, ‘I can’t believe I’m here.’”
Looking ahead, the team will head down to Waltham, Mass. tonight to face Brandeis University (8–12) and Medford, Mass. tomorrow to take on Tufts University (11–9; 4–4 NESCAC). With the Polar Bears currently ranked ninth in the NESCAC, the outcome of the Tufts match will help determine whether they make it to this year’s NESCAC tournament.
“We’re so ready. We’re going into this weekend fresh off of these wins and fresh off of seeing how talented we are, and hopefully, we’ll be able to catch that last tournament [spot],” Kim said.
Haugen echoed Kim’s confidence in the team’s talent and excitement for its upcoming games against Brandeis and Tufts.
“We are competing at a higher level than we have been yet this season, and we are peaking at the right time. Everyone really wants it and is putting in the work, now we just have to execute this weekend,” Haugen wrote. “Regular season is coming to a close, but I’m hopeful that this isn’t the end for this team.”