Volleyball wins bid to NCAA tourney; FH drops semis

The women’s volleyball team huddles up during a timeout in a win earlier this season. For their performance this season, the team earned an at-large bid in the upcoming NCAA tournament. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

On Nov. 6, the Vassar College women’s volleyball team was selected to compete in this year’s Division III Women’s Volleyball Tournament. They received the at-large bid, which means that they were allowed to compete in the playoffs even though they did not win the Liberty League championship.

The Brewers’ last match was a tough loss against Clarkson University, but the Brewers played them very well. The Brewers just could not seem to put together much of an offensive showing. In the opening set, they had 43 attempts and just six kills to show for it.

The second set got off to a better start for the Brewers, who at one point held a five-point lead with a score of 17-12. However, they were unable to keep this lead together. Clarkson quickly worked its way back into the set, taking a 23-21 lead over the Brewers. The Brewers took another lead, but Clarkson tied the game at a score of 26. Thanks to a clutch block by sophomore Colette Cambey, the Brewers took the lead and went on to win the set 28-26.

Sets three and four were tight, and Vassar was in it until the very end thanks to strong play by junior Devan Gallagher. Despite her efforts and close scores in both sets, the Brewers could not take either set from the Golden Knights.

Though the box score ultimately reads 3-1, the Brewers played far better than that reveals. Further, there were some notable individual performances that deserve recognition. Junior captain Annie MacMillan helped her team immensely, with 43 assists and 6 digs in the contest. Gallagher also stepped up and led the team in kills with 20 on the day. Gallagher was undoubtedly a huge part of keeping Vassar in the game.

MacMillan commented on her team’s play, as a whole, against Clarkson. “Despite the first set, we battled Clarkson quite well,” she said. “We got a bit unlucky at crucial points, which ended up being the difference in the match. We didn’t have as balanced of offensive production as we would have liked, which we look to gain back this weekend. Our defense was very solid, and we had flashes of brilliance.”

The team will need to learn from this match in order to show well in the NCAA tournament. Mac- Millan offered her thoughts on areas that need improvement and the importance of playing to their strengths in the tournament:

“This week, we’re really focusing on maintaining command of our passing and serving, and spreading out the offense,” she reflected. “We will count on production out of our middles, which will play a vital role in our success this weekend, as it has all year. Mostly, we need to be confident in how good we are and play passionate, relentless volleyball.”

This year marks the sixth time in history that Vassar has made it to the NCAA tournament. The Brewers are both well equipped and excited to make a deep run at a championship.

MacMillan commented on the team’s attitude entering NCAA’s: “We’re more than excited. We’re very ready, eager to get back on the court, and eager to make a run at a championship. We’re really focusing on enjoying every moment of this special experience, and, knowing anything can happen, taking it one game at a time and seeing what we can do!”

The Brewers will play their first game of the tournament against Babson College Friday, Nov. 10. Clarkson will be hosting the match in Potsdam, New York, and the winner of the match will play the winner of match between Clarkson and Morrisville State University.

Moving from the court to the astroturf, Vassar’s field hockey team wrapped up their strong season this past weekend in an unfortunate overtime loss to Skidmore College in the Liberty League semifinals.

Vassar got off to a quick start in this game, taking four shots in just the third minute. Just eight minutes later, sophomore Sam Plante almost turned a penalty corner into the first goal of the game with a great shot, but her efforts were thwarted by Skid- more defender Marissa Folts.

As Skidmore started to take shots of their own, sophomore goalie Liz Rotolo did outstanding work in the goal including a spectacular diving save in the 16th minute. Skidmore managed to sneak one of their shots past Rotolo by the end of the half.

The second half of the game was intense, with both teams unable to score until the game’s final minutes. With 1:34 left to play and down a player due to a yellow card, junior Emily Poehlein scored on the rebound of junior Molly Youse’s blocked shot. Poehlein says the goal was a team effort.

“[First-year] Natalie Johnston inserted the ball to [junior] Megan Caveny, who in turn slipped the ball left to Molly Youse. Molly took a great shot around the goalie into the corner of the goal. Unfortunately, a Skidmore defender was there to make the defensive save, which many thought was illegal and would result in a penalty stroke. The play did not stop there, though. After the defensive saves, the ball landed right in front of me and I put it in past the goalie. The goal took everyone being in the right position at the right time; it was definitely a team goal,” said Poehlein.

After the big goal, the clock expired with the score locked at 1-1. The game was sent to overtime. Skidmore’s Miranda Davenport scored the game-winning goal.
Though the loss was a tough one for the Brewers, their season as a whole was a good one. They finished 11-7, and only one of those 7 losses was by more than one goal.

Part of this success is due to the strong leadership from junior captains Megan Caveny, Monica Feeley and Alyssa More. Caveny says she has thoroughly enjoyed her experience as a captain and the opportunity to help her team in more ways than just her own on-field prowess.

“I am very happy to have had the opportunity to help my teammates grow,” Caveny said. “I aspire to help my teammates and the team as a whole grow every day, whether that be in communication, skills, working as a unit or other things. Having Alyssa and Monica as co-captains has been a great experience and I think the different perspectives and leadership styles that we bring to the team make for a great dynamic.”

The team is already excited about their chances for success in the upcoming season. Said Poehlein: “I already cannot wait to see what my senior season has in store for VCFH.“

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