Fairfield ends Quinnipiac’s four-game win streak, beats Bobcats in straight sets

Alexandra Martinakova, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – Fitting the theme of the Halloween weekend, Quinnipiac volleyball suffered a spooky defeat at the hands of the MAAC’s top team in the  Fairfield Stags. The Bobcats fell short in three straight sets, ending their four-game win streak on Saturday.

Quinnipiac did not falter in the face of the conference’s strongest team, as the match opened with a perfectly executed kill by the senior outside hitter Aryanah Diaz. It was obvious from the exchange of long rallies that the Bobcats were ready to show the Stags just on whose court they were playing at.

The first set saw some really good action from both sides of the net, as 26 out of the 41 points played were scored as kills, with Quinnipiac earning 11 of those.

However, that wasn’t enough against the Stags, who are undefeated in MAAC play. The Stags grabbed their lead early  and did not lose it for the remainder of the set. Their lead only kept increasing and the visitors snatched the first set from the Bobcats 25-16.  

As fast as the Stags took the first set, they swept the beginning of the second one even faster. The Quinnipiac hitters were no match for the Fairfield blockers and junior libero Kyla Berg, who recorded 15 digs and seven assists, six more than Quinnipiac’s sophomore libero Faave Kimsel Moe.

Too many mistakes were made in the second set by Quinnipiac, as 13 points out of the 25 the Stags scored were given to them from service and attack errors. A solid effort by Diaz, sophomore middle blocker Alexandra Tennon and graduate student middle blocker Nicole Legg was not enough to beat the Stags, who won their 13th conference win of the year.

Despite the poor performance on the Bobcats side, the afternoon was not all negative. Freshmen hitter Ginevra Giovagnoni returned to the court for the first time since Sept. 17.

“She played spectacularly, she never touched the ball and she walked off the court healthy,” head coach Kyle Robinson joked.

It was the first time in 13 matches that the Italian native has played  with an  abdominal injury sidelining her for over a month. “Just her presence out there matters,” Robinson said. “She’s one of the better players and people want to play with her and just having her on the court makes a difference. We’re trying to get her back into the playing mindset.”  

Maybe it was the incredible energy the fans showed on the bleachers or just the Halloween spirit, but the Bobcats did not give up that easily. It was the third set that finally saw the score come close to evening out, as the Stags maintained only a three-point lead throughout the entirety of it. Fairfield ended the match by taking the last set 25-22, snapping Quinnipiac’s win streak on its home court.

“We don’t make that many adjustments based on our opponents,” Robinson said. “We put major emphasis on serving and defense and the transition from defense, and those three things we didn’t do very well today.”

After the rising success the Bobcats saw in their last few matches, a loss like this might seem demotivating and borderline embarrassing. Kyle Robinson purposefully shuts down these doubts.

The bleachers were visited by Quinnipiac volleyball alumni from the Class of 1990, who loudly cheered for the current Bobcats.

“Anytime we can connect with our alumni, it’s great,” Robinson said. “To have that group come out and show some support is a big thing for us.”  

Overall, Quinnipiac didn’t perform to the standards it had been setting in its latest matches, with Diaz being the only player who reached double digits in kills, and even freshman setter Damla Gunes, who has been recording 30+ assists for the majority of the season, recorded just 29 assists in today’s game.

“I wasn’t disappointed with our effort,” Robinson said. “We just gave up too many service points, didn’t pressure them enough, didn’t pass well and we weren’t scoring points in the first two sets, and that’s an easy recipe for failure.” 

“I think this was a great loss,” Robinson added. “To get production out of that lineup we had in the third set, is really good for us and really problematic for other teams in the conference, because now they have to put in a lot more effort to figure out what Quinnipiac is going to do.”

The Bobcats are set to travel to New York next weekend for matchups against Manhattan and Iona and will return to Burt Kahn Court on Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. to face the MAAC’s second-worst team, the 1-12 Saint Peter’s Peacocks.