Yellow Jackets Clinch NE-10 Title After Record-Setting Season

Katie Bannon, Staff Writer

The women’s volleyball team clinched the NE-10 championship title on Sunday, November 13, 2022. They overcame the Adelphi Panthers in the finals to conclude the season with a 33-2 regular season record. Throughout the season, they saw heavy and intense competition that prepared them to battle their way to the finish line.

Their streak of wins started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where they took down the previously ranked Nova Southeastern and continued their wins throughout the weekend. When they returned to Springfield, their success only grew. The Yellow Jackets went on an 18-game winning streak and they would not see a loss until the end of October when they fell to the Saint Anselm Hawks.

Their loss came at a critical time according to Andrea Serra-Rosa. Serra-Rosa is a three-time player of the year and three-time All American who is critical to the team’s success. “The loss to the hawks was a wake up call for all of us,” she said. “It was late in the season and we were just used to coasting through the season without difficult games.”

But the loss gave the Yellow Jackets a second wind. “We used it to bounce back and get our team chemistry to where it needed to be for the end of the season,” Serra-Rosa said. Serra-Rosa is a critical part in the Yellow Jackets offense and defense. Serra-Rosa averages 3.30 kills per set and 2.28 digs per set, making her the most versatile player American International College has seen to date. She also holds the all-time kill record at American International College.

After the loss to the Hawks, the Yellow Jackets jumped right back into action, beating Southern New Hampshire in straight sets. The team soared through the rest of the season, racking up wins left and right. This season for the Yellow Jackets was projected to be one of the best. The team graduated six seniors, including Andrea Serra-Rosa, Mai-Lani Hernandez, and Naomi Eckert, who were all critical to the past and current successes of the team.

“It was hard seeing my four years here come to an end,” said Hernadez. “I had a wonderful time at this program and [I’m] so happy that I was a part of a winning culture.” Hernandez was the starting middle for the Yellow Jackets and was a key part of their blocking defense.

The Yellow Jackets also graduated Katie Bannon, Janae Kelly, and Andjela Bublic.

The Yellow Jackets win in straight sets to clinch the NE-10 title for the second year in a row. (AIC Athletics)

The Yellow Jackets would continue their historic season by entering the NE-10 championships with a match against Franklin Pierce. The Yellow Jackets would go on to beat Franklin Pierce in straight sets to head triumphantly into the quarter finals, where they played Southern New Hampshire. The Yellow Jackets had seen the Penmen previously in the season, and beat them with ease. This time however, the Penmen gave the Yellow Jackets a run for their money in a stunning five-set match in Butova Gymnasium. The Yellow Jackets fell to the Penmen in the first set, 22-25, and again in the second set, 16-22. However, the Yellow Jackets were not going to go quietly. They fought back and won the next three sets, taking the semi-finals match.

The next match that the Yellow Jackets saw was the NE-10 finals match against the Adelphi Panthers on Sunday, February 13. They would win with ease as they took down the Panthers in straight sets.



The graduating seniors pose for Senior Night following their victory over St. Michael’s. (AIC Athletics)

The Yellow Jackets then went on to host the NCAA East Region tournament where their streak continued until they saw Adelphi once again and lost to them in a five-set match.

Senior setter Naomi Eckert said, “We were super upset to lose and finish our season with a loss, but it was an amazing season with an amazing team. And for that I will always be grateful.” Eckert, like most seniors, is leaving her legacy on the court after a historic season for the American International College Yellow Jackets.

The Yellow Jackets will come back in the spring to hone their skills and get ready for another tough season ahead, which will kick off in Hawaii in the fall of 2023.