Sophomore Dean Dimitruk took a step off the end line, looked up, and waved to the crowd, his name still echoing in the gym after being called from the PA system.
"It was a really amazing feeling," said Dimitruk, a film production major from Philadelphia. "Looking up, and seeing my dad and brother there, it was really special. That was something I've never experienced before on any other team. It was great."
With each named called out, the Emerson faithful got louder, and one by one, the new Lions were introduced to a crescendo of cheers. The wild support didn't cease easily, however, driving the Lions to a torrid 25-12 start, and an eventual 3-0 sweep of visiting Albertus Magnus, also a first-year program.
"That was probably what got us through the rest of the match," said freshman captain Steve Selnick, a broadcast journalism major. "Especially with the home crowd, coming out strong and hard like we did-it dictated the way that we played the rest of game. It was huge for us."
Thanks to their blazing fan-fueled start, the Lions won the first set 30-17, scoring the final five points, to emphatically gain a 1-0 advantage. The Lions then continued to roll, winning the next two sets by scores of 30-24 and 30-21, cruising to their first win of the season in game one of a double-header.
"It felt really cool to play in the first ever game, but to get the first win, it was pretty exciting," Dimitruk said. "It felt really good to get it at home with all the fans-we knew we were going up against another first year program, we knew we could hang with those guys, and we did."
After suffering a crushing loss to Emmanuel last week, the Lions were more than eager to play in the Piano Row Gymnasium in front of their friends and family, knowing full well that a strong crowd behind them can mean the difference between success and failure.
"It was nice to have some fan support from Emerson," said Dimitruk. "To come into our home court with our fans, it was really exciting and definitely pumped us up the whole game. The fans played a vital role in getting us the win. Any time we got a little discouraged hearing the fans behind us got us to pick our heads up."
After drubbing the Falcons in the first set, the Lions were able to power through a tough second set that saw the teams even through a large portion of the frame. Then, in the third set, a crucial five-point streak pushed the Lions to a 22-10 lead, and an eventual victory.
"It was nice to get that first win," said Head Coach Craig LeTourneau, who also coaches the women's volleyball team. "These guys have a great attitude-they love to compete, but they love to have fun, and I think they understand that. They work hard, which I love to see, but they also have fun while they do it. If they keep that up, they're going to get better."
Despite the big victory in the first game of the double-header, the Lions dropped the second to Johnson and Wales by a score of 3-0. After falling 30-20 in the first set, Emerson lost focus, losing 30-11 and 30-8 in their final two. Still, Selnick said he is sure that if his team continues their hard work, they will be able to contend with powerhouses like JWU and Emmanuel, who handed the team its first loss the week before.
"We beat ourselves a lot of the time during that game," said Selnick. "During the second game, after we played really well against [Albertus] Magnus, we got really hesitant, and started questioning the things we were working on in practice. We just have to implement all the stuff we've been working on and not get away from it in-game, and if we do that I think we'll be okay."
The Lions return to the Piano Row Gymnasium this Friday for a 6:00 p.m. match against undefeated Lasell College.