Early in Tuesday night’s away game against Simmons College, the thought of an Emerson sweep was questionable. Several balls hit the floor as the visiting team struggled with blocks and tips, playing scrappy overall.
The Lions took the first two sets by a small margin after the girls overcame a slow start, winning the first two sets 26-24 and 25-22. Simmons came out swinging, with 31 kills for the night compared to Emerson’s 26, but the defense stayed active with 46 digs and strong blocking at the net.
Although the Lions defeated the Sharks 3-0, the team struggled with fundamental aspects of their game: serving, passing, and defense.
“Those are usually our strengths,” said Head Coach Ben Read. “So what were usually our strengths were our weaknesses today.”
As the sets continued, the Lions meshed together as a team, with communication picking up between front and back lines. Setter Juliana Tucker, who had 22 assists, nine digs, and four kills on the night, did her best to rally the rest of the girls around her. .
“If I’m out there playing as hard as I can, then hopefully it motivates them to do the same,” Tucker said. “I just want them to have fun.”
In the third set, the Lions beat the Sharks 25-18 and played with a heightened sense of energy since the pressure was off and they had already won the game, said Tucker.
“We took the first two games and decided to come out and take the third,” right side hitter Giuli Frendack said. “It was motivation for us to win in three.”
Frendack had five aces in a row, the most consecutive serves, and the second most digs, totalling 10 for the night.
“Serving is one of my stronger skills I guess,” Frendack said. “I like to practice doing it and make sure that I’m strong with it.”
Although serving was not a strength Tuesday night for the Lions, defense helped bridge the gap.
“They nailed passing and had a couple great digs,” Read said. “The girls found a way to win.”
There were two controvertial calls during each match regarding net touches, but the rulings against Emerson only strengthened the girls as a team, said Tucker.
“We pushed through, even though there were some certain calls that weren’t in our favor,” Tucker said. “But they made us come together, and we fought for it.”
Despite the team’s slow starts in each set, the players’ communication and encouragement with one another was constant. The front line yelled to the back for balls going out, everyone called when a player tipped the ball over, and the bench cheered after every play, point or nay.
“It was a close game, and knowing that we played the way we were supposed to play let us find a way to win,” Read said.
As the Lions head into their next game against Roger Williams tonight, they stand at 6-7 in the season and 2-0 in conference games, they will be focused on improving their consistency in defense and serving, two things that are usually strengths in the team’s game.
“When we play the way we’re supposed to play,” Read said. “We’re going to come out on top.”