Quinnipiac volleyball falls to 2-9 overall after 3-1 loss to Rider

Michael LaRocca, Contributing Writer

The Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team fell to 2-9 on Sunday, Sept. 19, after losing in four sets to the visiting Rider Broncs. The match wrapped up a weekend homestand for the Bobcats in which they went 1-1 in matches overall, and 4-3 in sets played.

The Broncs caught the Bobcats napping to start the first set, jumping out to a 5-2 lead. The Bobcats made many mistakes and had miscommunications that were unlike their play Saturday. Once the team realized they were not playing against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks anymore, it began to shift into its normal competitive look. After trailing 8-5, the Bobcats went on a 10-4 run to put them on top 15-12 before Rider took its first timeout of the match.

Despite keeping the set competitive, service errors plagued Quinnipiac, contributing to four Bronc points. The Bobcats also struggled closer to the net. The Rider front line blocked five Quinnipiac shots during the set and matched inch-for-inch the height that the Bobcats had on their own end.

The first set did not display a major run from either team, with the score going back and forth for the majority of the time. By the end of the set, both teams faced each other in a number of set points, jumping over the other consistently until the Broncs were able to close it out 29-27.

Sophomore setter Chloe Ka’ahanui followed up on Saturday’s good performance with 44 assists on Sunday. (Connor Lawless)

Saturday’s kill leader for the Bobcats, senior outside hitter Maggie Baker received minimal playing time in Sunday’s contest, only being on the court for several serves during the second set. While an exact reason for her exclusion was not provided, Quinnipiac coach Kyle Robinson said after the game what it would mean to have her in the lineup consistently with her fellow senior front line players, outside hitter Georgia Tselepi, middle blocker Nicole Legg, and outside hitter Olga Zampati.

“We’re always here talking about consistency,” Robinson said. “In a lot of these athletes, we’re seeing more consistency than others, and that’s why we’re looking at that lineup and our hope is to have all four of them on the court at some point if we can make this thing work. To have all four of them on the court for us would be a very potent lineup.”

The second set began with more Bobcat miscues. There were more mistakes and mental errors from the team, which led to an 8-3 deficit before Robinson took a timeout. However, after that timeout, Quinnipiac went on a 22-10 run to close out the set 25-18, including a 10-0 run that gave the Bobcats a 20-14 lead.

This set was also when Tselepi and Legg both came alive, contributing a combined eight kills and three blocks from their spots on the front line.

Like the first set, the third set was a back-and-forth affair between both squads. Each team matched the other throughout the first 44 serves of the set, standing tied at 22 apiece. Junior outside hitter Aryanah Diaz punctuated the majority of the set with her two kills as well as a service ace. However, they were not enough to win the set as the Broncs finished off by winning the final three serves and took the third set 25-22.

By the fourth set, the fatigue was beginning to show for the Bobcats. Before the loud crowd of 271 people could even process the situation, the Broncs had looked as if they put the match away by building a 21-9 lead. Despite the deficit, the Bobcats began to claw their way back by going on a 9-1 run that cut the Bronc lead to 23-19. Just as quickly as the momentum arrived, it disappeared for the Bobcats after a service error from freshman libero Faavae Kimsel Moe put the set at match point. Rider then ended it with a kill from their junior outside hitter Morgan Romano.

This match was defined by the dominance put up by both sides’ front line. The Rider Broncs had 15 total blocks, including six solo blocks coming from their senior 6-foot-3 middle blocker Kerrigan Casper, and the Bobcats also came away with a solid seven total blocks as a team.

Behind the front line, the setters on both sides had notable performances with Quinnipiac’s sophomore setter Chloe Ka’ahanui netting 44 total assists while Rider’s senior setter Anilee Sher had 42. Those assists set up good amounts of kills for Diaz, who had 16, and 17 for Romano.

After splitting this homestand, the Bobcats will now have to endure a stretch of their season that includes seven straight road games over the course of the next three weeks.

The Bobcats are about to begin a seven-game road trip. (Connor Lawless)

When addressing his team’s upcoming road trip, Robinson emphasized the work his team will have to put in to be successful under those circumstances.

“Our homestand was a nice beginning for us, but when we go on the road, we have to kick it up a notch,” Robinson said. “I believe they’re committed to being better so I think we’re going to be much better next weekend going into it.”

Robinson also made it clear that he was optimistic about his team’s progress at this point in the season, despite the number of losses creeping up higher and higher.

“All we’re looking at right now is to constantly be getting better,” Robinson said. “You’re not playing great when you’re down 20-9, but the way we’re playing the game is the right way in my eyes. When we are executing, we’re doing it the right way.”

This game sets the Bobcats up for next Saturday’s matchup against the 5-6 (2-0 MAAC) Niagara Purple Eagles at 1 p.m. Rider will look to continue the momentum from this win on Tuesday when they go to New Rochelle, New York to face off against the 3-6 (1-0 MAAC) Iona Gaels.