Quinnipiac volleyball falls late to Niagara as MAAC play begins

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

As the entire Quinnipiac community was settling into the festivities of Bobcat Weekend, Quinnipiac volleyball was on the road Saturday. The Bobcats were looking to start MAAC play 1-0 for the third-straight season as they faced off against the Niagara Purple Eagles. However, the team showed they were not up to the task, as the Bobcats lost in four sets, dropping the final three sets. 

Quinnipiac came out swinging in the first set, jumping out to a 10-5 lead after the first 15 serves. The Bobcats offense worked rhythmically, scoring in five separate bunches of three throughout the first frame, putting them in position to take the set by a score of 25-16, punctuated by a kill from junior middle blocker Lexi Morse. 

That positive moment was one of the last that Quinnipiac saw on the day, as the Bobcats’ struggles with closing out sets began to rear its disheartening head. 

In the second set, the Bobcat offense heated up again, clawing its way to an 18-12 lead. However, two separate 4-0 runs from the Purple Eagles brought Niagara back in the set, and they eventually finished off the Bobcats, 27-25, outscoring Quinnipiac 15-7 after that initial deficit.  

There weren’t many positive outcomes for the Bobcats in the third set either. They were able to battle back from a 21-16 deficit late in the set, tying it at 23, but Niagara swiftly put an end to the Quinnipiac threat, winning the set 25-23. 

By the fourth set, Quinnipiac’s play became sloppy, essentially gifting Niagara the victory by committing five errors and four bad sets in the fourth set alone, eliminating any momentum the team could have created. The Purple Eagles dominated the set by a score of 25-19, finishing off the match with a service ace from sophomore setter Kelly McArthur. 

The lone bright spot today for Quinnipiac came from senior hitter Aryanah Diaz, who provided a MAAC Player of the Year-worthy performance with 26 kills, 11 digs and a service ace. The Bobcats also had success when they found ways to feed their middle blockers as Morse and graduate student Nicole Legg combined for 16 kills on the afternoon, knocking down each and every hit with authority. 

Despite losing in four sets, the Bobcats accumulated more points, kills, aces, assists and digs than the victorious Purple Eagles. It was the sloppiness of play as the team out-errored Niagara 25-15, that led to the loss. 

The ability to finish has been difficult for Quinnipiac so far this season, as there have been many moments where the Bobcats were within striking distance of taking a set or match, but could not complete the job. For reference, Quinnipiac is currently 2-7 so far this season in sets that were decided by four points or less, and 3-10 in sets decided by five points or less. For the team to make a run at a MAAC title this season, making their own luck and finishing off those close moments late in sets is going to be what makes the difference. 

With the loss, the Bobcats now fall to 1-7 on the season and 0-1 in MAAC play, with their only win coming on Sept. 2, when they defeated Hartford in four sets. 

The Bobcats will look to end their losing streak and secure their first conference win Sunday, as they travel half an hour down the road to take on the Canisius Golden Griffins at 12 p.m.