After this season, KSC has been eliminated by U-Mass Boston in three consecutive years, including twice in the finals
The Keene State College Volleyball team is picking up the pieces after another heartbreaking loss in the Little Eastern Conference championship game.
“It’s funny, we lost thirteen matches this year and the other twelve we were like ‘yeah, okay,’ but this one [the LEC championship] you lose and you start to question everything,” head coach Bob Weiner said. “It’s because it’s the last one.”
The two-seeded Lady Owls lost the game to the top seed, University of Massachusetts Boston, in four hard-fought sets on Sunday, November 10, making the loss especially hard to recover from is the history between these two teams.
U-Mass Boston has now eliminated KSC from the LEC tournament three years in a row. Two of those losses came in the championship game, the other (2011) was in the semifinals. “It’s hard, we worked really hard all year and U-Mass Boston is one of our rivals,” sophomore Olivia Broderick said, “But, they are a good team.”
When asked what his team took away from another frustrating knockout, Weiner said it was too soon to tell. “I don’t know yet, this is still early. It’s funny I didn’t expect this, this is really raw,” Weiner said of his team’s emotions.
“They’re hurt that we didn’t get over the hump this time because they thought they would.”
Sophomore middle blocker, Madeleine Nossiff, admitted the loss stung, but also saw some positives to take away from the season. “It sucked to get that far and lose; but it’s exciting to get there,” Nossiff said, “It was exciting to go [to the championship] and we knew U-Mass Boston was a fantastic team.“
Now, Weiner said the program has hit a fork in the road.
“There are two completely different schools of thought to follow, and I’m not ready to give you a definitive answer as to which we’ll go down,” Weiner said.
The coach explained that the first path focuses on the team’s youth. With no seniors and only two juniors this year, everyone on the team is expected to return for 2014. If the underclassmen continue to improve, the team may be able to take the next step and finally win a league title next year.
Weiner is second-guessing himself in the second school of thought.
“The definition of idiocy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” Weiner said.
Weiner added that making playing time more competitive might give the team the jolt it needs to improve. That would include bringing in recruits who are ready to contribute immediately, but the coach is also concerned with upsetting team morale, something likely to occur if established players start getting benched. “If we bring the same group in and we lose in the championship, we can go back and go ‘God you’re an idiot, what were you thinking,’” Weiner said. “Or, if I blow it up and we finish sixth in the league then we go ‘God you’re an idiot’, and there’s only one good answer to this.”
Weiner said he will be decisive in whichever road he takes. Nossiff said she expects the team to improve even more next year after observing the team grow so much in 2013.
“I think over the entire season we learned a lot,” Nossiff said. “We developed as a team and definitely towards the end of the season, you could tell that we were starting to come together and really come into form.”
Broderick agreed with that assessment and said she is optimistic for the upcoming year.
“Since we have everyone coming back next year, hopefully we’ll have a strong start to the season and keep just growing like we did this season.”
Weiner agreed the team developed as the year went on, but still said he wasn’t sure how they would respond to another crushing defeat to end the season. Only time will tell if the loss will break the team or make them stronger.
“What have they gotten out of it?” Weiner asked. “They don’t know yet, we’ll find out.”
Zach Winn can be contacted at email@example.com