Quinnipiac volleyball falls short 3-2 in home opener

Alexandra Martinakova, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – With the backdrop of an unconventional Wednesday evening game, the Quinnipiac volleyball team played its first home game in 333 days, facing the Marist Red Foxes for the second time this season. And for the second time, the Bobcats lost, this time going all five sets.

Although Quinnipiac fell 3-2 to the visitors, it did not dampen the emotions on the Bobcats’ sideline.

“I was so pumped up that we get to play home games, cause this is my home now. This school, this court, this team are my home now. I felt appreciated,” freshman setter and Turkish native Damla Gunes said.

“It definitely pumps everybody up, knowing we have this amount of people cheering for us, especially since half of our team is brand new,” senior outside hitter Aryanah Diaz said.

This year’s roster has welcomed a lot of new faces, with half of the team being first-year students, two of which made the starting lineup for the game, Damla Gunes and her twin, outside hitter Yagmur Gunes.

While the Bobcats did not snag the victory, they came to shine at their home, Burt Khan Court, which was clearly reflected in their game play.

“This is part of why we do it. Our young women love representing the logo on their chest, and that’s important to me,” Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson said.

The first set was a battle for every single point, with the Bobcats being backed by the full and loud bleachers. The score stayed close the entire time, tied until both teams were just four points from snatching the first set for themselves. Despite limited service and attack errors on both sides, the majority of the points were won by kills, until the last point, when an attack error from the Bobcats gave the Red Foxes the set.  

Remembering the last time Marist faced Quinnipiac, the Red Foxes came back into the second set aggressively, wanting to repeat their last 3-0 win. The hosts proved they would not let that happen as they sprung to a five point lead in the first seven points. Despite aggressive play from Marist, the Bobcatskept showing what they are capable of evening the set score after a perfect kill from graduate student middle blocker Nicole Legg.

There were times on the court during the game, when the Bobcats didn’t shy away from expressing their frustrations over the referee’s ruling. “I’m frustrated,” Damla Gunes said. “It may be like the key point of the set, and when they don’t give us the point it can let the other team pull ahead.”

“We want them to play with emotion.” Robinson said. “It’s unrealistic to not be emotional when you compete, but you don’t want to give your opponents that energy, that attention. I think we maybe did a little bit too much of that tonight.” 

However, Marist was able to take advantage of the Bobcats’ emotions tonight.

The third set definitely brought out some frustrations, as the Red Foxes kept getting a lead, keeping a 10-point advantage for most of the set. In spite of what the end score of 25-14 for the set might suggest, the Bobcats kept fighting for every single point, giving only five points to the Red Foxes through game errors.

Quinnipiac was  seemingly more motivated after a loss rather than a win, as it once again made sure the Marist girls could not take their win from them that easily. The fourth set was akin to a tug-of-war game, the intensity of the match running high with each kill on both sides. However, the Bobcats did not let the Red Foxes take a lead, eventually evening the set score once more, before winning the fourth set  25-21.

The tensions ran high as the game entered its final set. The Bobcats managed to pull ahead in the first five points and led 5-4 at that point. Marist killed their way to a 15-10 win in the fifth set, snatching the win right from underneath the Bobcats’ noses.

Quinnipiac now stands at 2-11 for overall games and 1-5 in the conference. When asked about the back-to-back home games this weekend, Robinson remained positive. 

“I’m expecting a lot more of what we saw tonight, that fight, that spirit for representing the school.”

The Bobcats will return to the Burt Kahn Court this Saturday at 1 p.m. to face the Iona Gaels.