Owl volleyball team to play on new Spaulding Gym floor on Wednesday
KEENE, 9/6/11 – The Keene State College women's volleyball team has a new home. The Owls will have the distinction of playing the first varsity intercollegiate match on the new Spaulding Gym floor when its hosts Westfield State on Wednesday (7 p.m.). After starting its season 0-2, the Owls hope that the new floor will bring them good luck and their first win of the season.
To commemorate the occasion, the first 200 fans will receive a piece of the new Spaulding Gym floor.
"Being a fall sport has its advantages," said KSC coach Bob Weiner. "The players are really excited to be playing the first match on the new floor and are aware of the historical significance. It's nice that we are considered equal tenants in the Gym, along with the basketball teams."
"It's awesome being a part of Keene State history, said Bridget O'Bryant, a senior from Merrimack, N.H. "Hopefully, we'll play well and show what Keene State volleyball is all about."
O'Bryant and the other five seniors on the team get the opportunity to play on the new floor before concluding their Owl careers. "It's a new era for the team and I'm glad that I was able to be a part of it," said Braelan O'Toole, a fourth-year player from Derry, N.H.
"Coach Weiner was telling us that we're going to have the first serve, dig, and kill on the floor, so that's really cool," said Bridget Goodwin, a freshman from Rowelll, Ga. "The freshmen will have an opportunity to say they were the first players to play all four years on the new court."
For the five freshmen on the team, it's a question of good timing. They arrive just in time to inaugurate the new court. "My adrenaline is already pumping," said Kendall Desrosiers, a freshman from Windham, N.H. "It's wonderful that I can start my Keene State career on a shiny, brand-new floor."
Holding their first practice on Sunday, the Owls had a dress rehearsal, pulling out the new seat-back bleachers so they could get accustomed to their new surroundings. "The gym had a whole new feel to it," said O'Toole. "It's like playing in a brand-new building."
A popular athletic activity at Keene State, volleyball became a varsity sport at the College in 1975, seven years after the dedication of Spaulding Gym. Over the years, the Gym has hosted its share of memorable volleyball matches as the Owls moved from AIAW to the Division II New England Collegiate Conference and their current home as a Division III member of the Little East Conference. Those in attendance won't soon forget Keene State's LEC 2008 championship match-up against UMass-Boston. In a match for the ages, KSC came back from 7-1 deficit in the fifth and deciding game to claim the crown from the Beacons. "I'll never forget that match," said Brittany O'Bryant, the team's senior middle-hitter. "We still have the tape and watch it almost every day."
Spaulding Gym has served as a welcoming home for the Keene State women's volleyball team the past 36 years. While past teams have created their share of memories on the floor, the new court will bring new moments to remember, starting on Wednesday and through the years ahead.