The women’s volleyball team built upon this season’s early successes last weekend with its eighteenth consecutive win against Colby, followed by a win and loss in non-conference matches against Eastern Connecticut College and Keene State College, respectively.

 The victory over Colby last Friday helped the team bounce back after losing its first home game in two years against Connecticut College on September 19. The win also brought the team back over .500 in conference play.

  “The NESCAC is very competitive,” said Erika Sklaver ’17. “And so every game is a fight for us.”

 The team was able to gain an early lead against Colby in the first set, and beat the Mules in straight sets. Sklaver led the Polar Bears’ offense with eight kills. 

 “Colby was an extremely important game for us, ” said Assistant Coach Kristin Hanczor. “Our goal for the season is to win the NESCAC tournament because that guarantees us to move on the NCAA tournament. We put a lot of extra emphasis on our NESCAC matches to make sure that goal can stay on track.” 

 The team followed that victory with two tournament matches at Keene State on Saturday.
 The Polar Bears beat Eastern Connecticut handily in the morning but were less succesful in their afternoon match against the hosts—falling in three sets due to a number of errors, injuries and complications.

 “[Keene State] is typically one of the teams towards the top of the list in New England,” said Hanczor. “We fell behind by about 10 points and then started to stick with them but we made a lot of errors in the beginning that put us in a hole we couldn’t get out of."

 The team was also hurt by its lack of attentiveness.

 “I think we didn’t have a consistent focus,” said Sklaver. “We would have moments of greatness and moments of weakness. We played really, really well for 5 or 6 points and really poorly for 5 or 6 points.”

 “Every one was working very hard, but when you’re not working towards one goal it doesn’t work out,” said Christy Jewett ’16. “You all have to be on the same page to be able to get good plays over.”

 The Polar Bears are also working with a handicap right now—two of their 12 players are currently concussed, and only having 10 players available has put them at a clear disadvantage.
“It’s hard to plan an entire game because we can’t even fill the court,” said Jewett. “Also Saturday was just a little bit of a trial run—a learning experience. We started off with our alternate system and we’re trying that out.”

 The team’s roster is also young. There are no seniors, only two juniors and six first years.
“It’s always tough when you have a young team,” said Hanczor. “You have to rely on underclassmen to step up as leaders, but I think our two junior captains have done a great job.”
 The first years do not see this as much of a challenge, however.

 “The freshman class has great talent and potential, and I think that’s going to add to the team,” said Sarah Trenton ’18. 

“The enthusiasm of the first years, their excitement and dedication, rejuvenates the upperclassmen who are used to getting in the gym and working hard, but maybe have forgotten how to have a bit of extra fun doing it,” said Jewett.

 This week, the team is focused on preparing for two NESCAC matches against Trinity and Wesleyan. They are working on establishing a more cohesive focus by refining their defensive positioning strategy.

“That [defensive positioning strategy] includes where our passes are when the other team is hitting and where our blockers will be, and making sure we’ll be able to read the other side and get to our defensive spots,” said Sklaver. 

 “[We’re] looking to press forward with a lot of our NESCAC matches,” said Jewett. “I would say that we definitely have been working very, very hard this season. I think we’re a bit inconsistent right now but we’re definitely getting better.”

The team must get into form today for its 8:00 p.m. match against Trinity at Morrell Gymnasium.