Photo by Kayla Ebner
By Britney Dixon | Sports Manager
The gym flooded with fans as the Roger Williams University women’s volleyball team prepared for their matchup against the fourth-seeded Wentworth Institute of Technology Leopards on Thursday night.
Wentworth had previously come off a 3-2 victory against Western New England University to advance them to their matchup in Bristol, Rhode Island.
The excitement from the fans resonated through the gymnasium and was able to heighten the energy from the players, as well.
“It plays a huge role just to have that support. It creates such a great atmosphere for the girls to see,” Hawks Head Coach Danielle Soubliere said.
All season, the Hawks have had support from families and peers, but on Thursday night, the entire athletics department came together to show their support. From wrestling down to cross country, not a team went misrepresented.
Within the crowd, the club men’s volleyball team kept the energy through intimidating Wentworth and the swim and dive team performed their famous Saluki Strip.
On the court, the Leopards charged out of the gate. Wentworth took an immediate 8-3 lead to open the first set and hoped to rattle the Hawks, but their strategy did not result the way they had hoped.
Roger Williams kept a positive attitude, even when the score or calls were not in their favor.
“We worked all season on positive talk, focusing on one ball and taking care of it when it’s on our side. It’s just worked for us,” Soubliere said.
Another skill the Hawks worked toward improving this season was communication.
Sophomore Julia Fields accurately represented that progress with 36 assists on Thursday night. This allowed 11 kills for sophomore Grace Kenningham, nine from sophomore Maddie Neuberger and nine from sophomore Lara LoIacono who had just returned from injury.
Junior Molly Quilty took the lead in front of the net with seven blocks and seven kills. Quilty and her teammates were determined to get back to the conference championship game after being denied that opportunity a season ago.
“They played hard with high intensity and all out effort. They just wanted it,” Soubliere said.
The Hawks will host the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against No. 2 seed Endicott College. Endicott was able to eliminate Salve Regina University in their semifinals play on Thursday through a shutout victory.
With this championship match berth, RWU will have the opportunity to win their eighth CCC title in the last nine seasons.
With CCC Player of the Year Emma Mancini on the Gulls’ roster, Endicott is ready to defeat the Hawks for the first time since 2016. Mancini put up 208 kills in the month of October almost matching her entire 2016 season performance.
“For Saturday, we’re just looking to play together and play as a team,” Soubliere said. “We’ll take it one step at a time.”
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