Kaplon, Rice earn honors as Lions sweep tournament

by Beacon Staff • September 15, 2011

strongChris Eyer, Beacon Staff/strong

There are times when a standout individual performance can lead a team to victory. Other times, the team will pull off a win through a coordinated group effort.

At the Western New England University Tournament  (WNE) last weekend, the Emerson women’s volleyball team used both of these methods to win all four games and sweep the tournament.

Senior Megan Kaplon had the standout individual effort. She did it all. She recorded 12 kills against Western Connecticut State one day and then 12 kills and 16 digs against Western New England the next morning. Kaplon sat out when the team played Westfield, but played every minute of the other three matches, and was named Tournament MVP.

Kaplon says she got plenty of help from her teammates.

“They help make me look good,” she said.

[caption id=attachment_3813425 align=alignleft width=300 caption=Katherine Rice was named to the all-tournament team at the WNE Tournament. She was later named GNAC rookie of the week. Lauren Foley/Beacon Staff]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/lauren-foley_katherine-rice.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813425 title= src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/lauren-foley_katherine-rice.jpg alt= width=300 height=293 //a[/caption]

One notable contributor was Katherine Rice, who was named to the all-tournament team. The freshman marketing communication major added five kills against Western New England and seven against Colby Sawyer. Her efforts also won her the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Rookie of the Week for the week of Sept. 11.

The Lions used good ball movement to set up their offense with Jessica Drumwright and Katie Bailey both recording 19 assists against Western New England while maintaining a high attack percentage.

Kaplon said she and her teammates kept mentally strong throughout the stretch of four arduous games in two days by focusing on the game at hand.

“It can get tough, playing three games in a row like we did, but you have to move on and say ‘we won that game, let’s win the next one as well,” Kaplon said. “You need a lot of endurance and a lot of mental toughness.”

Although they swept the tournament, head coach Ben Read said it was by no means easy. The Lions nearly lost the first two matches in the fifth game.

“Playing all five games like that, it showed us that we were still vulnerable,” the first-year coach said.

In its opening match, Emerson came out strong but allowed Western Connecticut State to mount a comeback and sent the series to a fifth game, which the Lions narrowly won.

The next day, host Western New England University took the first game but was then dominated by a double figure margin in the second and third. However, Emerson was unable to close the deal and the match went to five games for another narrow victory.

Senior outside hitter Madeline Breeland said that the Lions shot themselves in the foot sometimes, but were able to retain focus when crunch-time came.

“It was our errors that let [our opponents] back into the game. We knew that if we corrected our errors we’d win the game,” the visual media arts major said. “It’s about us knowing that we are the better team.”

The next two matches were over much faster, with the Lions cruising to 3-1, 3-0 victories against Westfield State University and Colby-Sawyer College, respectively. In the final set of the tournament, Emerson trounced Colby-Sawyer 25-8, with Jamie Morgan recording six service aces and 12 digs.

Read said he believes that attending the tournament was helpful in that it pitted the Lions against strong teams from other conferences, proving that Emerson can compete at a high level even outside of its comfort zone.

“It’s good to play games outside of your conference, especially since these were all pretty good teams in their conferences. It helps to show that we can compete in the NCAA,” Read said.

When Read took over as coach in the off-season, he mentioned one of his team goals was to secure a berth in the NCAA tournament.

After a brief post tournament rest, Emerson took on the Ahmerst College Lord Jeffs last night. The Lord Jeffs reached the second round of the NCAA Division 3 championships last season.

The Lions continued their streak of playing close games, as they lost each set of the game by two points, falling 3-1.

When Amherst won the fourth set 27-25, the Lord Jeffs handed Emerson its second loss of the season. Emerson’s record now stands at 5-2.

Kaplon again led the way with 15 kills, while Morgan led the defense with 28. Rice chipped in with six kills, while Drumright led the Lions with 26 assists. Still, Emerson committed 25 attack errors, opening the door for Amherst to win the match. Amherst has an average team height of five-foot-nine, while only three of Emerson’s players were at least that height. Amherst had seven blocks during the match.

[caption id=attachment_3813428 align=alignleft width=300 caption=Megan Kaplon was named MVP of the WNE Tournament. She had five kills in the final match. Lauren Foley/Beacon Staff]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/lauren-foley_megan-kaplon.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813428 title= src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/lauren-foley_megan-kaplon.jpg alt= width=300 height=298 //a[/caption]

The Lions will be tested again as they go on to play three games in three days, beginning tonight against Babson. The team opens up conference play this weekend when it hosts GNAC rivals Anna Maria and GNAC championship runner-up Rivier.