Trip Out West Provides Spark for Beacons

Sebastian Lena

Facing a 2 set hole against Chapman, the UMass Boston women’s volleyball team came to a daunting realization. After having suffered two tough losses during the first day of the Pacific Coast Classic, the Beacons found themselves one set away from an 0-3 start.

By no means was it how the Beacons imagined opening up their season. Especially one marked with such high expectations after their amazing run to the LEC Conference final last year.

“We just weren’t ready to play them,” head coach Terry Condon said about her team’s slow start against Chapman.

Sophomore captain, Cassy Hanneman, brought up the Beacons’ mindset.

“We went in overconfident thinking that we were going to win,” she said. “Then it hit us. They came out to play.”

The Beacons proved they too came out to play, as they quickly rallied to even the match at 2 sets a piece. They quickly followed that up with a 16-14 fifth set, wrapping up their first victory of the season.

Playing a role in the Beacons’ comeback was reigning LEC Offensive Player of the Year and senior captain, Kate McWhorter. McWhorter finished with 15 kills, including 5 in the deciding set.

“When you get behind like that you can’t dwell on it,” she said. “That’s how you get beat. We changed our mentality and I think that’s why we ended up winning the match.”

The change seemed to be the perfect spark for the Beacons.

After an exhausting comeback, the Beacons handled Occidental rather easily to wrap up the Pacific Coast Classic with a record of 2-2.

Although it had its ups and downs, the trip proved very beneficial for the Beacons.

“I would say we learned a lot,” said McWhorter. “We gelled very well together [as a team]. We realized our potential and where we can go by season’s end.”

In only their second match at the Classic, the Beacons had a golden opportunity to measure up against a top division III opponent. That opponent was La Verne, ranked third in the nation.

The Beacons fought hard, but fell short 25-18, 25-23, 26-24. Although they lost, the Beacons took a lot of positives away from the match.

“It meant a lot,” Condon said. “The game pace was so much faster and the level of play was so much higher. I was pleased that they were just able to stick with them and be as competitive as they were.”

Senior captain, Kate White, mentioned the team’s attitude.

“It showed us that we could stand up to a team like that,” she said. “I think that was one of the things we got excited about. We didn’t lose our enthusiasm as much. We had fun.”

McWhorter and White contributed to the team’s success out west with 59 kills and 34 kills respectively. While Hanneman helped out with 167 assists, including a career high 50 against Chapman.

However, the captains weren’t the only ones in on the fun. The freshmen grabbed a piece too, especially Shannon Thompson.

Thompson turned the Pacific Coast Classic into her coming out party. She polished her sensational debut by leading the team in kills with 64 during the two-day trip.

“Shannon is what I expected,” Condon said. “She played great.”

Other freshman making impressions were middle hitter Alexa Sullivan and libero Bethany Rossoll.

“They’re all good assets to the team,” said Hanneman. “I think we needed them to make us that much better.”

With a loaded roster, there’s no telling just how far these Beacons can go.

McWhorter seems to have an idea.

“We not only want to make it to the LEC finals,” she said. “We want to make it past the finals, and get into the NCAA tournament. If that’s where we want to be, this is the level we have to continue to play at.”

It might be too early to tell just how successful the Beacons will be this year. However, one thing is for sure. The future has never looked brighter for the UMass Boston women’s volleyball program.