The first game in the history of Emerson's new gym was about to begin.,Emerson College President Jackie Liebergott was smiling ear to ear. She had just been presented with a ball signed by the entire women's volleyball team. The moment she had been waiting for was almost here.
The first game in the history of Emerson's new gym was about to begin.
Senior captain Kelly Gloor stood at the far end of the court, ball in hand. She paused, took a breathe and threw the ball gently up into the air. Then, with a whack, she served it safely over the net.
The ball was volleyed back and forth several times before it finally dropped into Emerson's zone. Wentworth one, the scoreboard read, Emerson zero. The match was underway.
In what was supposed to be the crowning moment for Emerson athletics, the women's volleyball team lost to Wentworth Institute of Technology, three games to two.
The loss dropped the Lion's record to 0-1 on the season and turned what had been a festive evening into a downer.
Despite the final outcome, there was a sense that a new era had begun for Emerson's athletics.
There were fans-- loud ones and lots of them-- on hand, and they were treated to quite a contest.
The Lions won the first game of the match, 30-24, controlling the tempo and keeping Wentworth players scrambling.
But in game two, it seemed as though the two team's roles were reversed. This time, Wentworth controlled the pace, even as the Lions went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 23.
The home fans stomped their feet with approval, but the Leopards maintained composure. Wentworth closed out the game, scoring seven of the final 10 points and winning 30-26.
Game three began the way game two ended. Balls from Wentworth continually fell in for points, as well as poor communication hurt the Lions. At the same time, serve after serve from Emerson was either dug out by Wentworth players or sailed harmlessly out of bounds. The result was a 30-21 romping by the Leopards.
Lions Head Coach Ann Miklus said her team lost focus.
"I think they just kind of sat back and just lost the composure they had," she said. "We have to play at a consistent level of intensity."
Game four once again began with Wentworth on a run. After a ball fell in between two Emerson players, the score was 7-2 in favor of Wentworth. With the possibility of losing the first match in the history of the new building now very real, the Lions rallied. The game went back and forth until Emerson finally pulled away for a 30-24 victory, forcing on a deciding game five.
When Emerson took an 11-8 lead in the first-to-15 format of game five, it looked as thought they Lions would pull off the comeback. Even after Wentworth tied the score at 11, there was still plenty of reason for Lions fans to hope.
The next Wentworth serve carried out of bounds, and the Lions once again led. But the next serve from the Lions traveled straight into the net and the game tied. It was the last time the Lions shared the lead.
Wentworth closed out the match, the last point coming after a long, back-and-forth rally that ended with the ball dropping just beyond the reach of several diving players. The score of the last game was a heart-breaking 15-13. It was a disappointing end to a match that had started promisingly.
Gloor said the difference between the two steams was effort.
"They played consistently," she said. "We need to utilize what we have and play the way we can play."
Still outside hitter and senior captain Alex Porteshawver said she was just happy to be playing again.
"It was really good to get out there and see what we have," Porteshawver said. "Now we know what we need to improve."
But the real story of the game was not so much the outcome as the turnout. Filling most of the bleachers and skyboxes above the court were fans, holding purple mini-megaphones and cheering on an Emerson athletics team.
Sophomore outside hitter Janna Tonahill was blown away by the support.
"It helps so much when you have a crowd behind you," she said.
Coach Miklus agreed.
"It makes so much of a difference," she said. "If we could get these fans here all the time, it'd be awesome."