strongChris Eyer, Beacon Staff/strong
As Emerson volleyball fans filed into the Brown-Plofker Gym Saturday, they were treated to an odd sight: The Lions wore pink tie-dye shirts and pink shoelaces during their warm-up drills. Neon pink balloons were tied to the bleachers, and the walls were adorned with bright pink homemade signs. Even one of the officials was seen sporting a pink wristband.
This was no mere fashion statement. It was all part of the Dig Pink double-header — an event to raise money for breast cancer research.
Members of the men’s volleyball team ran a bake sale with goodies made by Alexa Krakowiak’s mother Meg. Lapels were sold to spectators, and a few of the more fashion-savvy crowd members donned pink plastic sunglasses. All proceeds from the event went to the Side-Out Foundation.
“Everyone had a huge part in it. We had bonding moments together making the signs and tie-dying our shirts,” said Alex Lynn, a freshman outside hitter, referring to the posters that read “Hoot 4 Hooters” and “Help save the Boobs.”
Other posters featured breast cancer statistics, such as one in every 100 cases will affect men.
The event was held in conjunction with breast cancer awareness month and was spearheaded by head coach Ben Read, who began a similar event last season while coaching at Wheaton College.
“I think it’s just the right thing to do. If you have the ability to do something [for charity] you should,” Read said. “I’d seen some other teams doing Dig Pink, so I wanted to reach out and try to do it myself. Cancer affects a lot of people. I found out recently that my aunt had breast cancer, so it hit home for me on a personal note, so it’s nice to go ahead and give back.”
For the Lions, the event was a victory on three fronts. They defeated the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 3-0 and the Colby-Sawyer College Chargers 3-1, all the while raising just under $500 for breast cancer research.
The Corsairs proved little trouble for the Lions, who swept the UMass Dartmouth in the opening match. The visitors were unable to recuperate from the 15-2 run Emerson put together in the first set. Freshman Kat Rice recorded 12 kills with only two hitting errors.
Emerson then took a break while Colby-Sawyer faced the Corsairs and recorded a 3-0 win of its own.
The Chargers then got in on the pink-theme, wearing pink jerseys against Emerson. The air of congeniality ended when the two evenly-matched teams took the court. The contest opened with intense play at the net with both sides exchanging powerful strikes. Colby-Sawyer went to their 5-foot-10 inch outside hitter Courtney O’ Hara early and often. The sophomore finished with 12 kills on 52 total attacks. The back-and-forth play ended when the Chargers squandered a chance to take the lead away with a service error.
Colby-Sawyer came out hot in the second set, and though Emerson kept it close, the teams went into the intermission tied at one set apiece.
More special festivities were in store during the intermission. Fans of both teams competed in a serving contest, including the parents of Colby-Sawyer’s Sarah Hannon and Emerson’s Meghan Kaplon. Hannon’s stepfather, John Hickey, and Kaplon’s father, Michael Kaplon, were both contestants. Rewards included gift certificates to Mike’s Pastry and Barnes amp; Noble.
Back on the court, Emerson overcame Colby-Sawyer’s size and athleticism using a balanced attack, coming from both sides and using misdirections. Emerson showed depth as sophomore Alyssa Thorne came off the bench and had two key kills in the third set.
The Lions played highlight reel defense, including one gem in which Krakowiak had to lean over the scorers’ table to save a ball, and another where an off-balance Bailey saved a point by spinning the ball over the net to fool the Chargers. Emerson pulled out a victory in four games.
After taking on Keene State tonight, Emerson will host conference foes Lasell and Albertus Magnus. With the season nearing its close, every game counts, but Saturday was a reminder that there are more important issues than volleyball.
“It makes you think about what this is all about. It’s not just the fundraising but also the awareness about how breast cancer affects people on a day to day basis,” said Kelsey Scanlon, junior outside hitter. “We have philanthropic duties. The athletic department is not just about athletics.”
emEvan Sporer, sports editor of the/em emBeacon and member of the Emerson volleyball team, did not edit this article. Eyer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter /emem@prymetymechris. /em