Quinnipiac volleyball loses 3-0 to Fairfield on the road

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – In the team’s final game before its home opener, Quinnipiac volleyball fell victim to the MAAC’s first-place Fairfield Stags on Saturday, losing in straight sets despite a valiant effort late in the match. 

From the jump, the Bobcats were volunteering to walk into a buzzsaw. The score was 6-4 Fairfield after the set’s first 10 serves, but it wouldn’t get that close again. The Stags eventually went on two separate 4-0 runs throughout the rest of the first set, pulling themselves away from the Bobcats, taking the frame quite easily by a score of 25-14. 

Quinnipiac didn’t fare much better to start the second set, as Fairfield took advantage of its timely offensive opportunities and errors from its opponent, jumping out to a 9-0 lead to start the frame. Fairfield led by as much as 12 points in the second set before things began to click for Quinnipiac, both offensively and defensively. 

At this point in the match, Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson, known for his tendency to add variety to his lineups, had only used his starters for the first set and a half. The only substitutions he made were graduate student middle blocker Nicole Legg swapping out for sophomore libero Faavae Kimsel Moe, and vice versa. Seeing his team with its back against the wall, Robinson tried to find a way to work something out.

“You hope that someone catches fire right?” Robinson said, referring to his early lack of substitutions. “It’d be one thing if we’ve had a set lineup that we can rely on, but we just don’t have that. We’re just seeing who’s going to catch fire, and who’s going to be prepared to come in and carry the load.”

Robinson confirmed after the game that his team has been battling injuries throughout the season and that setting lineups has been a specific challenge he is still working to overcome. 

He also stated that stand-out freshman hitter Ginevra Giovagnoni will be out for an unknown amount of time with what he described as an abdominal injury. Giovagnoni was in uniform on the sideline for the duration of Saturday’s matchup, but did not see any action. 

Despite the injuries, the Bobcats battled back in the second set to make the score as close as 20-13. They could not finish the job however, as the Stags composed themselves and closed out the set 25-14. 

Through two sets, the match had not seen any lead changes or any ties beyond when the score was 0-0. In the third set, the audience at the Fairfield RecPlex saw 16 ties and six lead changes as the Bobcats gobbled up some of the leftover momentum they ordered in the set prior. 

That momentum seemed to have tasted pretty good, as Quinnipiac began to look like the team that was projected to finish third in the MAAC standings this year. This was the moment in the match where Robinson made ample use of four bench players, bringing much-needed energy to the team. His use of fresh legs made a difference, as the Bobcats fought until the very end, but ultimately lost the set 25-22 and the match 3-0. 

In the end, it was attacking errors throughout the three sets that held the Bobcats back from winning at least one of the frames. Hitters senior Aryanah Diaz and sophomore Alexandra Tennon both led the Bobcats in kills with 12, but it took them 74 combined attempts to do so, combining for 16 errors along the way. 

On the other side of the net, Fairfield was extremely efficient and clean with its offense, having four players in its lineup hitting at .400 or better throughout the match. As teams, Fairfield and Quinnipiac hit .352 and .077, respectively, and that stat tells you all you need to know. 

With the loss, the Bobcats fall to 1-4 in MAAC play and 2-10 overall, but one can tell that Robinson’s spirit and optimism were not broken.

“We understand the long game, the big picture,” Robinson said. “You want to be in the playoffs competing for a championship, which we will this year. Everyone’s in, everyone’s going to Disney, but we’re finally ready to win a championship.”

If the team wants to win a MAAC title this season, it will have to blaze a trail that begins with the team’s home opener against Marist Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m.