By Pat Mariboe
Elm Staff Writer
The Shorewomen needed to win their last two Centennial Conference games in order to qualify for the first round of the playoffs. The Shorewomen, who entered their first CC game this week against visiting Haverford, had a 3-5 record in the CC going into the final two games and a 19-7 overall record respectively.
Their first must win game against the Haverford Fords was a close contest, with each team sharing sets back and forth. Washington College was the first team to take the lead in the contest, narrowly winning the first set 26-24. The second set was another even sided one, with the Shorewomen unable to hold on, giving the Fords the second set win, 26-24.
The Fords kept the momentum going into the third set, dominating WC 25-14. With a 2-1 lead, the Shorewomen had to win the fourth set in order to keep the match going. WC were down by six points in the next set, but managed to pull off a great comeback. The Shorewomen leveled the scoring at 18-18 after being down early and managed to close off the fourth set 25-23.
The fifth and final set was the closest of the match and another even sided set. WC knew they had to win this set in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Fords took control early in the set, leading 8-4. The Shorewomen showed some resilience, scoring four straight points and leveling the score to 8-8. Each side shared some more points, finding the scoreline at 13-13. WC weren’t able to hold on, however, and ended up losing the set 13-15, and the match in five sets, 2-3.
Sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Cooney had 16 kills in the loss, while junior middle hitter Jess Daunoras recorded 13 kills, 24 digs, and three aces.
When asked about their next game and their competition this season, freshman Alaina Geissberger said, “Overall, we just need to stay consistent as a team. Whenever we are all focused and mentally in the game, we perform our best and really compete with some of the hardest teams in the conference.”
On the team’s recent defeats and struggles in the CC this season, Geissberger said, “We definitely had our ups and downs, but I really think we all put in a great effort this season. We came close in a lot of games, and if we keep putting in that same effort I think we will really improve from one season to the next.”
With the loss, the Shorewomen were officially eliminated from postseason play, but were looking to finish off their season on a high note, when they faced off against McDaniel in a CC match-up.
The first set went WC’s way, as junior outside hitter Kristen Lee scored the winning point, giving the Shorewomen the 25-21 win. The second set was a win for the McDaniel Green Terror after a serving mishap by WC gave the opponents the second set win, 25-22. The Shorewomen began to show some composure in the third set, never trailing by more than eight points, collecting the 25-17 victory. In a must-win fourth set for McDaniel, the Green Terror forced a fifth set after pulling away from WC and winning the set 25-19.
It was a similar story for the Shorewomen, who made it to five sets and were defeated by Haverford in their last match. This was the first time this season where the Shorewomen had two consecutive five set contests. WC had lost their last three matches that went to five sets and were looking to break that streak in the fifth and final set of the season.
McDaniel took a 7-5 lead early on in the set before the Shorewomen fought back, taking a 10-9 advantage. The Shorewomen would go on to win the last set 15-12, after the final match winning kill by sophomore right-side hitter Alexis Jordan.
Cooney had 18 kills while Utchen had 19 digs in the victory.
“It felt so rewarding to finally get the win in a close game after falling just short in a few of the previous tough losses,” said Cooney.
The Shorewomen managed their third winning season in the past four years, recording a 19-9 overall record, and a 3-7 record in the CC.
“This season we definitely had our ups and downs as a team, but I’m really proud of the work we put in to the season to finish with a 19-9 record,” Cooney said. “In the off season, we’re going to need to work on mental toughness and staying consistent as a team and that should push us through to the next level. I’m going to focus on improving my serve receive so the team can run a more consistent complicated offense. Consistency is key, and with that we will have a great season next year.”
Despite finishing with only three conference wins for the season, the team is optimistic about its future. The majority of the team is composed of freshmen and sophomores while only one player will be graduating.
Moving on to the Centennial Conference playoffs are Haverford, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Johns Hopkins, and Franklin and Marshall, all of whom defeated the Shorewomen at some point throughout the season. After another season of experience under the belts of such a young team, WC looks to finally emerge as a conference contender next season.
“Having a young team had some disadvantages,” Cooney said. “But we really started improving towards the end of the season so that gives us high hopes for the start of training in the spring.”