A Comeback on the Volleyball Court
Through the years, the women’s volleyball team has seen its share of ups and downs. But this fall one of the oldest sports programs on campus experienced an inspiring resurgence, earning a regional ranking for the first time in nearly two decades. Its final record, 22-8, matched the highest win total in the program’s 38-year history. “I hope this year will serve as a benchmark for the program moving forward,” says team captain Kathleen Lynch ’13, who finished her Babson career with a school-record 3,631 assists. “I couldn’t have asked for a better season to go out on.”
First-year player Mary Donahue ’16
Photo: Mickey Goldin
What made this year’s success even more impressive was that more than half of the roster was first-years, making Babson one of the youngest teams in the country. “It was amazing to look out on the court at any given time and always see at least one first-year making an impact,” says Eric Neely, who became the program’s first NEWMAC Coach of the Year.
Volleyball’s rise to prominence began last year, when Neely, then in his first year as head coach, and all-time kills leader Megan Flaherty ’12 led the team to 17 wins, its highest total in nine years. However, Flaherty’s graduation left a gaping hole in the Beavers’ lineup, and Neely knew the key to continuing his program’s turnaround would be a relentless recruiting effort in the offseason.
That strategy paid off, as Babson welcomed perhaps the greatest firstyear class in its long volleyball history. Eight of the team’s 15 players were first-years, including NEWMAC Rookie of the Year and All-Conference Second Team honoree Mary Donahue ’16, who led the league in kills per set; Krissy Robertson ’16, who played four positions throughout the season and led the team in blocks; and Alicia Wilde ’16, who ranked second on the squad in kills.
That’s not to say veterans didn’t play a part in the team’s accomplishments. “Our success was also a testament to the tremendous leadership of our upperclassmen, especially Kathleen Lynch, who as a setter had the incredibly difficult task of integrating a very diverse group of newcomers into our matches,” says Neely.
Together, the veterans and the young core of rising stars melded into a winning team. “The team chemistry was amazing this year,” says Lynch. “Everyone on the roster truly cared about the team and its collective success, which enabled us to compete at a high level while also having a lot of fun.” —Chris Buck, Sports Information Director