By Pat Mariboe
Senior Sports Writer
The Shorewomen celebrated Senior Day in style with a 3-2 five set thriller over long-time school rivals , Salisbury.
The Shorewomen first traveled to Collegeville, Pa. to take on Ursinus in a Centennial Conference matchup on Wednesday. The Bears hadn’t beaten the Shorewomen in five years of play, so the Shorewomen made sure to keep that momentum going.
Washington College all but dominated the first two sets, winning 25-16 and 25-15, respectively. Junior Amy Rohn was a standout for the Shorewomen, as she finished off an eight point run in the first set with an ace and also helped the Shorewomen jump out to a 9-2 lead off a service ace in the second set. The Bears put up a fight in the third set, however, as the game was tied 24-24 late on in the set. After what seemed to be two set winning points for the Bears, a service error found the Shorewomen leading 25-24, when the dominant sophomore Kaitlyn Marino won the match for the Shorewomen with a kill.
Prior to the team’s dual matches against Franklin & Marshall and Salisbury, the team honored seniors Audrey Utchen, Rachel Baker, and Alexis Jordan. The players were introduced at center court, joined by their family and friends.
“Our seniors have really brought a sense of stability to our program,” said Head Coach Jamie Leventry. “They’ve been consistent players and role models for our team for four years. I couldn’t be happier that they were able to get a big win today.”
Utchen, who just last month became WC’s all time leader in digs, had mixed emotions on her special day.
“It was definitely weird,” said Utchen. “When it’s all put together at once it’s a little bit overwhelming to see everything I and the team have accomplished. Plus, I didn’t know I qualified for the the Centennial honor roll again so that was a nice surprise.”
The Diplomats started off hot in the first set, beating the Shorewomen 25-14. The Shorewoen, however, showed their resilience and fought back, winning the second set by a tight margin, 25-23. Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the match, as F&M would go on to win the third set and WC the fourth, bringing the game to a decisive fifth and final set. The Diplomats started off the set with a 12-6 lead, before the Shorewomen fought back to bring the score to 15-14 in favor of the Shorewomen. An error by the Shorewomen led to heartbreaking loss 18-16 in the five set contest.
In their second match of the day, WC faced off against rivals Salisbury. Last season, the Shorewomen swept the Sea Gulls in straight sets, so the Shorewomen were looking for a repeat performance this time around. The Shorewomen just squeezed by a 26-24 win in the first set before getting trumped in the next two sets 25-13 and 25-11, respectively. It was a familiar story for the Shorewomen, as they fought back to win 25-20 in the fourth set, which meant another five set game was in the making. The final set was back and forth, each team vying for that crucial win in the last contest of the day. An ace by junior Sarah Bentley and an error by the Sea Gulls was all it took for WC to come out victorious over their rivals, 18-16.
“It felt great to fight back after a rough loss,” said Leventry. “We scrimmaged Salisbury earlier in the year and I knew that this would be a tough match but I felt that if we played well we could earn the win. The team really showed some heart in winning a tough match after a tough loss.”
Although suffering a tough loss against F&M, Utchen was happy with their performance and their resilience to bounce back in the next match.
“We have never beat F&M in my four years, so being able to take them to five and extra points gave us some confidence,” said Utchen. “Obviously we would’ve liked to win our Conference match, but being able to come back with the same energy and fight for another five games against Salisbury shows our mental toughness since it was such a long day.”
With her illustrious collegiate career coming to an end, Utchen responded positively when asked how she wants to finish off her final season at WC.
“With wins,” said Utchen. “Haverford is similar to F&M and we have always been competitive with McDaniel, so as long as we come out fighting I think we can end the season with two more W’s.”
Although the loss to F&M loss meant that the Shorewomen were officially knocked out of playoff contention, Leventry shares Utchen’s optimism and knows what’s on the line regarding the last two games.
“We have two conference matches left that should be very competitive,” said Leventry. “And while we’re out of the playoff race we can still have an impact on the playoffs and who qualifies. I’m looking for the team to continue to fight as hard as we can to finish the season.”