The New England College Volleyball team finished the 2019 season in historic fashion. The team finished the season with a winning 14-12 record and advanced all the way to the conference championship game. In only their third season as a program the team finished with a stellar 8-2 mark in home games and won six of the seven matches they played against NECC opponents.
After receiving a bye in the first round of the conference tournament, the team defeated Elms College 3-2 to advance to the championship game. Despite falling 3-1 to Eastern Nazarene for the second year in a row, the program has made great strides and will be ready to contend for their first conference title in 2020.
“Going into the season, we had the mindset that we would continue to grow from the previous season. We had worked hard during spring season the year before,” said sophomore Captain Maggie Dadmun.
The season got off to a slow start as they held a 5-8 record through their first 13 matches. However, the team was then able to win eight of their remaining 11 matches to earn the second seed in the conference tournament.
“I am incredibly proud of how much we grew as a team and as a program this season. We only improved as the season progressed and that was great to see. It was a fantastic season going 6-1 in conference in the regular season,” said Dadmun.
“Halfway through the season is when I think everyone realized that we really did have potential to go far in the conference,” added sophomore Sydni Geisler.
Two of the wins down the stretch came over in-state rival Colby Sawyer.
“One of the biggest highs of the season was beating Colby-Sawyer, not once, but twice. It was the first time in program history that we beat them, and to be able to do it two times in a row was a huge morale booster for us,” said Geisler.
The Pilgrims took a perfect 6-0 conference record into their final game of the regular season against Eastern Nazarene with the top seed in the conference tournament on the line. The hard fought five set loss gave the Lions the top seed and NEC the second. “A win against them would’ve meant that we could host all of our playoff games, so beating them would’ve made a huge impact on the rest of our season,” said Geisler.
After an exciting five set match resulting in a playoff victory over Elms College, the season came to an end when NEC had to travel and play Eastern Nazarene in the championship game. “Nevertheless, I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of resilience and passion that the team possessed that took us all the way to the championship game,” said senior Kennedy Somavia, following the loss.
The team was led by both outstanding individual efforts as well as an overall team spirit. “We all loved being in the gym together and it translated to how well we played with each other on the court,” said Geisler. Somavia added, “since day one, we really grew together as a team and became a unit which showed on and off the court.”
The team was led on the court by Tihani Ehia, Shirita Wimberly, and Dreka Griffin, all of whom recorded over 200 kills for the Pilgrims this season. Wimberly also led the team in service aces and was tied with Griffin for the team lead in sets played with 96. Both Ehia and Wimberly were voted onto the All NECC First Team while freshman Jaycie Kodama was elected to the second team.
Being voted onto the NECC Third Team was Captain Maggie Dadmun. Dadmun was a leader for the Pilgrims both on and off the court this season as she led the team with 456 assists and is currently first in program history in that category. About Dadmun, Somavia said: “Maggie stepped up big time this season on and off the court. As a captain, she led the team with grace and helped to make our team a unit. On the court, she was our strongest setter and really helped our team achieve as much as we did.”
Also taking home conference honors this season was Head Coach Kristen Morrison. Morrison, who just completed her second season as head coach, has led improvement in both record and postseason advancement in each season under her reign.
At the conclusion of the season, Morrison was elected 2019 Coach of the Year. “We are so proud of our coach for being awarded NECC Coach of the Year. It’s not an easy task to get such a high award as a second year coach and the whole team agrees that she is so deserving of the award,” said Geisler.
As the 2019 season concluded, the team is shifting their attention to the offseason and doing what they can to improve once again and this time win the NECC title in 2020.
“I am incredibly proud of this team and this season,” said Dadmun. “I am excited for another great spring season in a couple months and to see what we can do next fall!”