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Learning a few lessons from voleyball triumph

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By David Rothstein

A few lessons learned from Saturday's day at Babson:

Lesson No. 1: You don't have to play very well if your opponent plays worse than you do. Simply put, the Engineers did not play their best to beat Smith. Absent was the good execution that MIT displayed in beating several good teams earlier in the season.

Smith coach Bonnie May was gracious in her post-game commentary, saying that MIT ". . . played very well [and] didn't make any mistakes." MIT coach Karyn Altman '78 was a bit more to the point:

"The scores don't by any -- for me -- stretch of the imagination indicate that we played well."

In general, however, "we have a stronger all-around team," Altman said, comparing Saturday's match to last year's MIT-Smith championship final, and credited her starters for "hanging in there," despite struggling.

Lesson No. 2: Even if you don't play very well, but you still win, you can enjoy it. Especially if you win a conference title.

"This was our way to Nationals," said senior co-captain and NEW-8 Volleyball Athlete of the Year Cecilia Warpinski after the match. "Now we're sure, secure, happy . . . psyched."

They say that good teams rise to the level of their competition. Someone probably also says that the best teams do not sink to the level of their competition, but not so explicitly. Besides, the Engineers did not really sink, they just floated for a while. After all, when you have the coach of the year, the athlete of the year, the conference title ... you have to be doing something right.

"It was a good day for us," Warpinski said, standing a few yards from the post-match crowd of players (10), manager (one), coaches (three), fans (five) and parents (two). Then, earnestly, "I wouldn't be the MVP without the team." Nor would Altman be Coach of the Year.

Lesson No. 3: Volleyball and dancing don't mix. At least not for Smith.

I want to be in love with you . . . oooh, oooh, oooh. . .

The words floated from the tape player that Smith had set up during the pregame warmups. The Pioneers lined up on the baseline with shirts tied through the collar, beachstyle, and went into a hip-grinding, shoulder-swaying dance routine.

I want to be in love with you. . .

It looked like it took them a while to practice the routine.

Oooh, oooh, ooooh. . .

Apparently, Smith has been doing this before every match since mid-season.

Ooooh, oooh, oooh. . .

Well, it looked like they were at least having fun doing the dance.

I want. . .

Needless to say, dancing did not help Smith's game.

The Engineers looked on with bemused looks on their faces. No dancing from these players, although senior Julie Wissink did something of the sort after the match.

No dancing for the winners. But sing they did, rendering Happy Birthday to assistant coach Dave Insley no less than four times on the day. And on the van ride home as darkness fell, Tone Loc on the radio got a little help from his MIT friends.

Maybe the team should learn the words to We are the champions, my friend. . .