Despite falling to Coast Guard in four sets on Oct. 21, the Lions remain in favorable position to secure a playoff spot in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
The Lions (15-14 overall, 4-4 in conference) currently have a two game lead for the seventh and final spot, and a win over Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Oct. 28 or Clark University on Nov. 1 would clinch a berth in the NEWMAC tournament. The top seven teams in the conference qualify for playoffs.
Conversely, Clark will have to beat Worcester Polytech Institute on Oct. 28 to have its matchup with Emerson mean anything. Should Clark lose to WPI, it will fall to 2-7 and be mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
“We know what we need to do at this point,” said junior team captain Giuli Frendak. “We’ve had a pretty successful season right now, and we need to go into [the rest of the season] with a lot of focus.”
This season has been a renaissance for the women’s volleyball program, who, despite a 15-13 overall record last year, finished with a 3-7 conference record and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“[Improving] gives the team confidence that we’re going to be able to keep progressing in this tougher conference that we’re in,” said Frendak, a defensive specialist and journalism major.
Before joining the NEWMAC, the volleyball team had a long run of success as one of the most consistent teams at Emerson, sweeping the playoffs and winning the GNAC championship in their final year.
“We came from a conference that wasn’t as strong. There was a bit of a learning curve in a new conference,” said head coach Ben Read. “This year our goal was to finish at .500 and make the playoffs. And now we’re one small step away from doing that.”
Should it come down to a final matchup against Clark on Nov. 1, history will not be on the Lions’ side, who were swept by the Cougars in their only matchup last year.
“If we beat Clark, we’re in. That’s a no brainer,” said Read. “But we also have a game against MIT on Tuesday. One NEWMAC win and we’re in. But we’re still going for two more wins and a higher seeding than seventh.”
Assistant sports editor Claire Nobles contributed to this report.