WIS. - There is nothing white about this place. Purple
would better describe the land in which the Wellesley College
volleyball team will attempt to win its first national championship.
quest, which began 31 matches ago, enters its most important
chapter Friday night as No. 18 Wellesley (27-4) takes on
the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the No. 1 team in
the nation and host of this year's NCAA Division III Final
Four, at 7:30 p.m., CST in the Williams Center.
Everything in the Williams Center is purple: the floor,
the walls, the seats and surely the Warhawks' uniforms,
as well as the 1,400 people expected to pack this place
But just maybe this purple haze Wellesley has walked into
is exactly what it needs to advance to Saturday night's
national championship match against the winner of No. 6
Juniata and No. 8 LaVerne. After all, in each of its last
two NCAA matches, Wellesley has defeated teams, which wore
After a regional semifinal victory over Gordon, Wellesley
posted victories over Williams and Nazareth, both of which
wore purple. Who's next the Niagara University Purple Eagles?
But the purple pokes aside, this has been quite a ride for
this team - literally and figuratively. The flight to Milwaukee
Wednesday night on Midwest Express was made for volleyball
players. With a pair of six-footers and several others standing
much taller than your average frequent flyer, the extra
legroom and extra-wide seats made for a rather comfortable
flight. For the record, this was still coach class. But
the figurative ride is an ongoing one. This is a team that
is not satisfied simply to be here. Reaching the Final Four
is just a step in the process. The real goal is one 300-some
Division III volleyball teams started practicing for in
August. Now four remain, and Wellesley is lucky enough -
and more importantly talented enough - to be one of them.
Like a prizefight, the goal is to be the one left standing.
The only difference is that Wellesley is in a purple ring
with three opponents rather than one.
But should these 12 college-aged volleyball players be the
ones left standing, it would mark the first team national
championship for Wellesley College. Karyn Cooper holds the
distinction of capturing Wellesley first national crown,
winning the NCAA Division III Tennis Singles Championship
But at a school with more than its fair share of distinguished
alumnae, working in fields ranging from politics to space
to medicine and beyond, how appropriate to add 12 of the
It just could happen. It only takes two wins in two days.
Those wins would just happen to be against two of the finest
teams in the nation. Many have said Wellesley is the underdog
and maybe it is - if you look at the poll. Fortunately for
Wellesley, the poll does not matter once the ball is served.
Friday night as Americans around this nation settle into
their chairs after a hard week at work, 12 Wellesley College
volleyball players will extend the traditional work week
into the evening and even Saturday.
Rest assured, they will be turning the Williams Center into
their own purple paradise.