Heading into the Great South Atlantic Conference (GSAC) Championships, the Mills College volleyball team was the fifth seed, facing fourth seed Finlandia University on Nov. 8. The games were played at Salem College in North Carolina.
Head coach Peter Yee said that all the games the team played were fairly close, despite starting the match behind in the score against Finlandia. After making some adjustments, the team turned it around and finished with a final score of 3-2 in Finlandia’s favor, according to the box score on GSAC’s website.
“In the first match, we lost our first two games, but came back to win the next two, which is a difficult thing for a team to do psychologically,” middle blocker Julia Harencar said.
Finlandia won the first two games of the match, 25-20 in both games. Mills battled and won the third and fourth games by a score of 25-16 and 25-16.
In the fifth and deciding game, Yee said that the team got out of the game a little slow.
“We definitely came a long way,” Yee said. “The way we played in the tournament, there was a lot more fight. We did a lot better job taking care of the ball. The biggest strides, I believe, came internally.”
Harencar said she was happy with the way the team battled in the fifth game.
“Naturally, I wish we had taken a few more points early on in that fifth game in our first match and won that game to move on in the tournament bracket,” Harencar said. “But a lost game in which we fought till the end is far better than a game in which we beat ourselves, or even a game in which we win without playing hard.”
Right side Quinne Hanrahan agreed with the sentiment.
“I think we did really well, we worked hard and played as a team,” Hanrahan said. “It really came together at the tournament.”
The team matched up skills wise with Finlandia, according to outside hitter Nina Chandrasena.
“They had one really good hitter and we had a few good hitters so the amount of points scored on both sides was close,” Chandrasena said. “Overall, I thought that was one of our best games and we only lost by two so I would say that it was great.”
Hanrahan said that she does not think there was anything they could’ve done better than how they played.
“We played our first game well and came back from behind incredibly well,” Hanrahan said. “If one or two things had gone our way in the last set, we would have won out first game at the tournament.”
Chandrasena said the team could’ve played a little differently in their first match.
“I think that if we would have come out a little stronger on the first day. we might not have had to go to 5 games,” Chandrasena said. “We might have finished with a win and had moved on to the second round of playoffs, but overall I think we did the best we could.”
The Cyclones won the consolation match against University of Maine at Presque Isle, sweeping all the games, 25-12, 25-9, and 25-13.
“I was pleased that we did not play down to their level and maintained control in all three games,” Harencar said. “This is something we struggled with in earlier parts of the season, so I was overjoyed we maintained our level of play.”
Hanrahan said the tournament was a great way to end the season.
“It gave our team a chance to play with teams of comparable type,” Hanrahan said. “And we rose to the occasion.”
Chandrasena was very happy with the way the season ended at the GSAC Conference Championships.
“I thought we had a pretty good season,” Chandrasena said. “There were a few games that I am disappointed we didn’t win but we played well and had fun. Being a senior and going to North Carolina for this championship playoffs having zero wins so far and leaving with a win is all I could hope for. I am very proud of what my team accomplished and I wish for the best for the next few seasons to come with the younger players. I can’t wait to hear how they do.”