Saint Anselm volleyball prepares for NE-10 Conference playoffs

Luke Sugar, Sports Editor

The Saint Anselm Women’s Volleyball team closes in on the final stretch of their regular season and will be gearing up for the NE-10 Conference tournament soon. Currently, on the season, the team sits at an impressive 15-6 with a dominating 9-1 record at home. The Hawks look to continue this success, with their next game being home on November 5 against NE-10 foe, Saint Rose. 

The Hawks are led by head coach Braden Zamore. Zamore heads into his seventh season as head coach, and he has been a huge reason for this program’s success. Zamore has led the Hawks to three 20-plus win seasons, four straight appearances in the NE-10 playoffs, and three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II East Regional.

The Hawks also owe so much of their success to their incredible players. This 2021 roster is certainly a special group. “I think the work ethic and drive this year is one of the strongest I’ve ever seen. It really started this past summer. If you look at the roster they’re scattered all over the country, so they really aren’t able to see each other. But the connection they’ve had in the group chat is awesome. Over the summer they would send each other their workouts and videos of them playing volleyball,” said Zamore.

The players themselves also notice something unique about their team. “I’ve noticed how good our team chemistry is thus far. We are a young team and with our youth comes motivation. We’re a very determined team and everyone brings something different to the table. We all want to succeed together so we work hard for each other rather than for our own benefit,” said Junior captain Caroline Belmontez. 

This year’s volleyball team is very young, with no seniors and only five of their 10 returning players being juniors. However, the Hawks look like they’ve played together for years. The experienced players as well as the younger players each have their own important roles on the team. 

“We always encourage all our student athletes, no matter grade or age, to play a leadership role in some way. Some of the younger players might not be vocal leaders, but they can still lead by example. They can do things like hustle in practice. We have five returning juniors and a junior transfer, and they are the only ones who have ever played collegiate volleyball. We rely on them to help the coaching staff and get us into a routine, and they’ve done a great job so far,” said Zamore. 

This team may be young, but they have loads of depth and skill. The Hawks’ roster is extremely well-rounded. “We have a lot of depth 1-15. All 15 can compete at this level, so it makes practices very competitive. We tell our volleyball student athletes: if you put 100% into these practices we will be very competitive and we’ll get a ton out of it,” said Zamore. 

The support and school spirit from fans are also extremely important to the volleyball team. Having a strong and loyal fanbase has definitely helped the Hawks during their domination at home. “Of course while the game directly comes from the team and our energy, I’d say fans have a huge role in our team’s success and dynamic. They give us that drive and motivation to play not only for our team but for our school too and the Saint Anselm community. It helps us remember that we are representing Saint Anselm,” said Junior Colleen Chen.  

The Hawks are a hardworking, closely-knit group. And something that has helped the Hawks stay motivated and focussed throughout the season is the message that their team lives by.

“We have a team motto that we came up with on the first day of preseason, and we actually chant it before every game. It’s: ‘Outwork and out team.’ Outwork represents our goal on and off the court to outwork other teams in the gym, on the court, in every drill and with nutrition. Out team means that we’ll be there for each other and communicate and gel as a team,” said Chen.

Belmontez also added, “One of our strengths is our ‘team over I’ mentality. Honestly, not even considering skill, having a true team effort being made every match makes a huge difference.” 

A team will have success when everyone buys into the same end goal, and the volleyball team has done just that. “We’d love to get over the hump of winning a conference championship or winning the east region championship. We understand that’s going to be tough, but we won’t be content until we can do that,” said Zamore.