Five of the nine players on Quinnipiac’s volleyball team who played Saturday afternoon were either freshmen or sophomores.
None of those players were named Logan Riker.
Riker, who missed the team’s previous game against Bryant, was absent again as she watched her team fall to St. Francis (N.Y.) in straight sets 25-17, 25-17, 25-17. With the loss, the Bobcats are now eliminated from NEC playoff contention.
“Our inexperience just really showed today,” Quinnipiac head coach Robin Sparks said. “We were missing Logan – she all year long has passed 80 percent of the serve receive and that showed tonight. We didn’t have her, and that made a big difference.”
Quinnipiac started the first set with a 6-1 lead, but gave it up quickly. When the Bobcats led 9-7, the momentum shifted to the Terriers. St. Francis (N.Y.) won eight straight points, taking a 15-9 advantage, a lead that would not be relinquished.
“We came out really strong then, I don’t know,” said Amanda Armstrong, who finished with four kills and seven blocks, tying her career high. “We might have thought it was going to be easy and that they were going to make all the mistakes, so we just kind of let it go a little bit. It’s kind of sad that it happened because we didn’t have a lot of time to practice because we had a match on Wednesday.”
The second set had a similar story. Quinnipiac started strong with a 5-0 lead, but gave it right back. Tied at 12, the tables turned in favor of St. Francis (NY). The Terriers went on a 13-5 run to close out the set.
“I would like to have seen a little more passion and heart out of them,” Sparks said of the first two sets. “I was a little disappointed with their heart. But I think we came back and played better after the [10-minute] intermission.”
Quinnipiac seemed to fall apart in the third set. St. Francis (N.Y.) closed out the match on a 10-2 run to seal the victory.
St. Francis (NY) (9-19, 5-10 NEC) registered more kills (40-26) than the Bobcats. Senior Anisa Lila and sophomore Marina Georgieva each tallied double digits in kills, 18 and 13 respectively. Senior Maria Kashavelova led the match with 28 assists while senior Liliana Rodriguez had a match-high 15 digs.
Junior Kelby Carey led Quinnipiac (6-23, 4-11 NEC) with nine kills while Kayla Lawler recorded 18 assists, bringing her 35 assists away from 1,000 on the season.
Freshman Tracy Wright filled in for Riker and led the team with five digs. Stephanie Biediger had four digs of her own.
With the Bobcats shorthanded, three softball players stepped up to fill in for the team. Jessica Amenda (junior), Kortney Kesses (sophomore), and Jordan Paolucci (freshman) all suited for Quinnipiac, but did not play.
They almost got their chance early in the third set. Biediger slid into the pad by the net head-first, leaving the bench breathless for a short moment. She was replaced, but returned later in the set.
“When Steph went down, it was like all of a sudden ‘oh no’ and I actually thought one was going to have to go in at that point,” Sparks said. “Two players got cleared this morning so we really weren’t sure who we were going to have available and we just played hard. We’re going to have to reevaluate how some of them are feeling tomorrow to know whether or not they are ready to go. I think it’s meant a lot to the team to know that three of them said, ‘Hey if you need us, we’re there for you,’ and that’s what it’s supposed to be. Athletes are supposed to stick together.”
Since other fall sport athletes do not play volleyball and winter sports are currently in session, Sparks went to softball to see who can fill in.
“There was a limited pool of who you could find of cleared athletes so I automatically went to softball. Lacrosse players tend to play field hockey and softball players tend to play volleyball.”
Though the softball players did not play today, they could get another chance tomorrow afternoon against Central Connecticut State, a team Quinnipiac has not yet beaten in the program’s history. The Bobcats have already accomplished many firsts, including defeating Robert Morris and Hartford earlier this season.
“It’s time for us to get another first,” Sparks said.