Quinnipiac ends home stretch with 3-1 loss to Siena

Alexandra Martinakova, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – The Quinnipiac volleyball team fell to the visiting Siena Saints Wednesday night in four sets dropping to 2-7 in the MAAC play.

The schedule has not been kind to the Bobcats recently, having two night games in the middle of the week, two weeks in a row. The fact that it is the midterms period did not help, rather it was reflected in the very quiet and sparse bleachers at the beginning of the game. Despite that, the Bobcats came out on the court, fighting loud and proud as they always do, eager to try and continue their winning streak from Sunday, against the Siena Saints.

“We know our responsibilities, what works, what doesn’t work,”  team captain and opposite hitter Aryanah Diaz said “We have to stay locked in, pick up our energy, our presence here. This is our gym and we can’t just be acting like they can just come in here and have a free game given to them.” 

The game started out hopeful for the Bobcats, after graduate student middle blocker Nicole Legg opened the score with a skillful kill, followed by another one just two points after. That point was the only advantage Quinnipiac would have in the first set, as Siena did not let them pull ahead for the remainder of it. The score stayed close the entire time, with the visiting team maintaining a three-point lead on average, until they closed the first set on a kill from graduate opposite hitter Emily Wunder.

The second set saw some obvious frustration from the Bobcats, which quickly led to the loss of concentration and allowed the Saints to gain six points in a row, four of those scored thanks to attack errors on Quinnipiac’s side. 

The Quinnipiac is nothing if not full of fighters however, and the tides began to turn after a beautifully executed setter dump from the freshman  setter Damla Gunes. 

From there, the score was changed after long and intense rallies followed by kills from either side, rather than attack and service errors like we saw in the first set. The stars of this set were unmistakably Quinnipiac’s sophomore opposite hitter Alexandra Tennon and senior outside hitter Aryanah Diaz, who recorded five and six kills in the set, respectively. It was one of Tennon’s many kills that won the Bobcats the second set 26-24 and evened the score against the Saints.

It is no secret that the Quinnipiac volleyball team is full of young and promising players. Damla Gunes, for example, recorded 44 assists and three setter dumps in this match alone. 

“She (Damla) is a professional, she plays like one. Her attitude, her professionalism is top notch.” Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson said.

Aryanah Diaz entered 20 kills and 15 digs, leading the team tonight. When asked about what the opposite hitter’s best part of the game is, Robinson had a very clear answer. 

“Everything,” Robinson said. “Blocking is the worst part of her game, and that’s only because of her height, a thing she can’t control. Beyond that, her game is on a level unlike most. People pass on her because of her height, but I’d take her on my team any day.”    

Hyped after a turn like that, the Bobcats stole the beginning of the third set, maintaining a six to eight point lead until the score reached the 20s. Despite a run off like that, Sienna was able to climb their way to an even ground, 23-23, and not even a time out called by Quinnipiac was able to deter their comeback, taking the set for themselves after another kill from Wunder.

“We just have to execute,” Robinson said. “You can’t just pull up a lead like that and then just squander it away. We have to keep the pressure on and adapt when the opponent adapts and we just didn’t do that tonight.”

After a disappointing loss like that, the Bobcats’ spirit did not falter for a second, the players running well past the court lines in attempts to save the ball. The rallies only got longer and the determination to win was felt on both sides of the net. It was that energy that seemed to wake up the crowd as well, the loudest cheering coming from the members of the men’s club volleyball team. Nevertheless, the Siena Saints took the last set 25-22.

After nine conference matches, Quinnipiac stands at 8th place in MAAC play, with a 2-7 record. Despite that, Robinson keeps a positive attitude. 

“If we were playing bad volleyball with that record, I’d be pretty bummed,” Robinson said. “We’re playing pretty good volleyball, just not consistently. That to me is the story. To see a court full of first and second years and look like fourth years, to see them committed to the program like none other.”

“(Robinson) He’s more worried about the work we put in, the attitude that we have, our presence, whether it’s a practice, whether it’s a game,” Diaz said.  “He’s focusing on us keeping a good energy and it really helps the girls in our program, especially the six new girls.”  

Quinnipiac ended its fourth home game of the year with a loss, and will return back to action on Oct. 15 visiting Rider.