Growing Through Winning

Sebastian Lena

Winning 13 straight matches is impressive enough. However, the UMass Boston women’s volleyball team just keeps finding ways to make it look even better.

Take for example the fact that the Beacons have now won their last 24 sets played. A phenomenal mark that spans over their last 8 matches, including two conference showdowns.

Then there’s the broken records.

The Beacons’ winning streak and set streak are both school records. Not to mention, at 13-2 (2-0), the Beacons are off to the best start in school history.

The Beacons expected to be good. But this good?

“I didn’t expect it,” head coach Terry Condon admitted. “I thought we would have a few more losses than we have. I thought we’d struggle against some of the tougher opponents like Tufts and Williams.”

Of course, the Beacons beat both of them on their way to capturing the Brandeis Invitational last month.

Leading the Beacons are all the usual suspects.

There’s Senior outside hitters Kate McWhorter and Kate White, who place first and third on the team with 229 kills and 122 kills respectively. Then you can’t forget Sophomore setter Cassy Hanneman, who leads the team with an impressive 587 assists thus far.

However, they’re not alone. The freshmen have made a huge impact as well.

Making the biggest splash is middle hitter Shannon Thompson. Her 212 kills rank second on the team, while her 268 points lead the team. Then there’s libero Bethany Rossoll, whose defense has provided a spark for the Beacons. She leads the team with 227 digs. Also coming up huge for the Beacons is middle hitter Alexa Sullivan. She has 56 kills to go along with her team-leading 42 blocks.

All this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Condon.

“I think the freshmen are really starting to come around,” she said. “I think all of them are starting to set into their roles.”

They can thank the Beacons’ early dominance of their opponents for the opportunity.

With the Beacons leading comfortably in the majority of their matches, Condon has been able to give her younger players a lot more playing time.

“It helps depth wise,” Condon said. “But more important is that it gives the player’s confidence that they can actually do this and compete.”

Don’t believe her? Just ask freshman middle hitter, Alexa Sullivan.

“It’s helped a lot,” she said. “It really makes us feel like we are an aspect to the team.”

Condon’s tactics seem to be working well, as the Beacons find themselves rolling smoothly into conference play.

“Going into conference play at such a high level of play is a huge confidence booster,” Sullivan said. “It feels good to know how good we are and how much better we can become.”

Conference play is exactly the place for the Beacons to find out just how good they are.

“Conference is all that matters,” Condon said. “If you don’t win the conference you don’t go anywhere.”

Conference play demands a higher level of play. However, the demand for more carries onto the preparation as well.

“We take a look deeper into what their strengths and weaknesses are,” Condon explained. “Where as when we play non-conference games we just mainly focus on our game.”

And it seems like it’s paying off.

All their hard work and success has resulted in the Beacons being recognized as the number one ranked team in New England according to the last Division III Women’s Volleyball Association Poll.

If the Beacons keep up this level of play they might find themselves ending the season with a more coveted number one spot.

The one that also comes with the LEC trophy.