Photo Contributed by the KSC Athletics Department

Ashley Arnold
Sports Editor

The Keene State Women’s Volleyball team is gearing up to clench a NCAA Little East Conference championship victory this season, according to Assistant Coach and former KSC volleyball player Taylor Bright.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is an organization that regulates a majority of college sports programs at any division.
The Little East Conference is a Division III league that falls under the rules of the NCAA. According to the LEC website, the conference is made up of 9 teams from 6 New England states.
The volleyball team has reached the LEC Championship six times in the last ten years. Their last win was in 2008. Since then, the team has finished in second place five times to the University of Massachusetts: Boston. Umass Boston is still the biggest competitor in the LEC for the volleyball team this season, said Bright.
“I feel like half the time, our girls get into their own heads because it’s been eight years. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh it’s Umass Boston, we have to beat Umass Boston,’. It’s definitely kind of one of those things that’s just looming over you,” she added.
Bright continued by saying the freshmen class came into the season with great attitudes.
She said this boosts team morale and creates a united team dynamic that could help lead the team to victory.
“The group that came in really helps. They’re all very positive, so the whole group’s very positive, and they all get along really well. It creates a really cohesive environment for them to play well,” she said.
Senior Captain and middle block, Niamh Dodd, also agrees that the freshmen class brings new skill and aptitude.
“We have a really strong freshmen group which helps so much. So as far as transitioning as a new team, it’s really been going so well. They’re competitive, they’re great sports… They’re new but their fitting it quite well,” she said.
With the help of the talented freshmen class and her other teammates, Dodd said she hopes to finish her senior year with a conference win.
“Our biggest goal is definitely winning the LEC because we’ve been runner-up 2015 and 2017, so it stinks to make it that far and lose to the same team,” she added.
According to the LEC website, the Keene State Volleyball team is predicted to place 2nd overall in the conference.
This prediction was based on the votes of the head coaches of the teams in the league. Umass Boston is predicted to place first.
In order to achieve a conference and championship win, KSC Women’s Volleyball Coach and the 2017 LEC Coaches Award winner, Bob Wiener, said the team has been building up its defensive force.
“I’m a defensive oriented coach, I always look at defense first. I haven’t done this since 2009, but we’re building a system based on the people we have defensively and that takes a little bit of time,” he said.
Wiener added that the team is extremely strong offensively, not only as a unit but as individuals as well.
“Offensively, I think we can score on anyone. We’re blessed. We have the best setter, Bailey Wilson, so the ball goes generally where it’s supposed to go, and we have too many good hitters. It’s a luxury,” he said.
The team has a really good ability of bouncing back from mistakes and they keep a level head under pressure, Wiener added.
“We’ll be down 7 or 8 points, and we don’t expect we’re going to lose. That’s a tremendous vibe to take into the season. If somebody makes a mistake, rather than grab the first wire hanger and beat themselves, they laugh about it. They think about what’s next.” he said.
Students can support the Keene State Women’s Volleyball Team on Tuesday, September 11 at 7 p.m. in the Spaulding Gymnasium as they play against Colby Sawyer.

Ashley Arnold can be contacted at
aarnold@kscequinox.com