The majority of the West Springfield volleyball team sported smiles after their season came to an end with a 3-2 (25-23, 19-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-8) loss at Yorktown during the opening round of the Northern Region tournament on Nov. 8. Sure, the Spartans would have liked their season to continue, but head coach Stephanie Noriega said the team had already out-performed its ability level.
"West Springfield has great girls," the coach said. "Realistically, it was a bummer to lose tonight. I think we’re more than capable of beating [Yorktown]. But I think the girls knew that they surpassed their expectations they had at the beginning of the season. People looked at this group of girls and thought, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a building year,’ and it wasn’t. They were competitive with every single team that they played."
If 2010 was a building year for West Springfield, the Spartans laid a strong foundation for the future. West Springfield, a team with three seniors on the roster, earned the No. 1 seed heading into the Patriot District tournament before losing to eventual champion Lake Braddock in the semifinals. The Spartans finished 14-7 and were ranked No. 4 in the Nov. 1 edition of the Northern Region Volleyball Coaches Association top-10 poll.
How did the Spartans go from rebuilding to regional accolades?
"We work really hard," Noriega said. "We have girls with great attitudes. One of the things that sets our team apart is that we, as opposed to having a team with one all-star player, we have depth on our team. Everybody on our team contributes. There’s not that one go-to player, that one girl who’s phenomenal. Instead, we have a bunch of average girls who play above their skill level every night."
Against Yorktown, senior outside hitter Lauren Scolese led West Springfield with 18 kills. Junior middle blocker Emily Nagel tallied 13 kills for the Spartans, senior outside hitter Shannen Scott finished with 12 kills and five aces and sophomore middle blocker Savannah Schutzmeister had seven kills.
Scolese was an honorable mention all-region and first-team all-district selection. Nagel also received first-team all-district honors. Senior defensive specialist Niesha Berger was also named to the second team, while Scott and junior defensive specialist Jessica Trieu garnered honorable mention.
— Jon Roetman