‘We want the best’: Bobcats sweep Broncs on senior day, prepare for conference playoffs


Peyton McKenzie

Quinnipiac volleyball started MAAC play with a 2-7 record, but have since rattled off eight wins in the last nine matchups.

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

HAMDEN, Conn. – In the team’s final match of the regular season, Quinnipiac volleyball honored its seniors well, defeating Rider in three dominating sets on Sunday. The victory was the Bobcats’ eighth in their past nine matches, firmly planting them as one of the top teams in the MAAC heading into the conference tournament this upcoming week. 

During pregame, Quinnipiac honored the seniors from the visiting Rider Broncs, as well as its own, giving senior hitters Alisa Mejia and Aryanah Diaz their time to shine. 

While Diaz plans to return for her graduate student season in 2023, she wanted to emphasize the importance of this day for seniors completing their undergraduate education. 

“It still feels great,” Diaz said. “Four years is originally how long your career is supposed to be in college. I know next year will be different because I’m focusing on a different part of my life … Next year, I’ll see the seniors coming up celebrating their day. So it’ll be different. It’s an outside perspective.” 

Despite being sidelined with an ankle injury she sustained in the match against Manhattan last Saturday, Mejia was honored in her own way. Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson made the decision to give her the start on Sunday, putting her on the court, boot and all. 

“I’m just really grateful that (Robinson) did something like that,” Mejia said. “He didn’t have to do that. It was just really special. It’s just been so sympathetic and just a great coach.”

Robinson said giving Mejia the start wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.

“I’ve been planning it in my head since she got hurt,” Robinson said. “These are the little details that make a big difference, right? Just to show her that love and respect is a big deal, I think for her but also for me as a coach to be able to do that for her.” 

Once Mejia got her time on the court, she was immediately subbed out for freshman setter Damla Gunes. After that, the rout was on. 

The Bobcats never lost the lead during the entirety of the first two sets. They were able to pull through in the first set, taking it 25-20. Then they put Rider on the ropes in the second set, winning it 25-16. That win put the Bobcats one set away from securing the program’s second-ever winning record in conference play since moving to the Division I level in 2000. 

The third set however started off quite shaky for Quinnipiac, with Rider taking its first lead of the day by going on a 3-0 run. The Broncs later secured a 5-4 lead after nine serves. However, the next nine serves were some of the most dominant volleyball that the Bobcats have played all season. They went on a 9-0 run to take a 13-5 lead midway through the set, punctuated by three service aces from Damla Gunes. 

Quinnipiac never let Rider make the set close again, locking things down defensively while also keeping its foot on the gas offensively. The Bobcats were able to finish things off by a score of 25-17, winning the entire match in straight sets. 

Diaz showed out for the home crowd on her senior day, tying freshman hitter Ginevra Giovagnoni for the team lead in kills, notching 11 on .375 hitting, while almost getting another double-double with nine digs. 

The Quinnipiac defense also locked up Rider’s 2021 All-MAAC First Team hitter Morgan Romano. The Broncs’ senior, who had 26 kills against the Bobcats in the 2021 MAAC semifinals, was held to only five kills on .105 hitting, over 100 points less than her season-long average. 

The match also went quite quickly as only two timeouts were called across the three sets played, none of which coming from Robinson’s bench.

“They had been playing at a really good level and executing at a really good level,” Robinson said. “I didn’t need to interject myself at any moment. So it wasn’t a strategic thing.”

The win helped the Bobcats finish their season with their best conference record since the 2016 season, where they ultimately fell to Fairfield in the MAAC Championship game. 

After starting conference play with a 2-7 record, an 8-1 turnaround to finish the season 10-8 in the MAAC is something the team will take to heart, but not too much.

“It should give a little bit of confidence,” Robinson said. “You only want a little bit. You don’t want too much and be cocky, right? I think it’s good. Like I said, we’ve been playing the game well. Not always as clean as I would like it, but I’m greedy. You know, I’m a coach. That’s what we are, we want the best.”

The team will now look to settle down before traveling to the MAAC Tournament in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday. After they arrive, they will prepare to face off against Iona in the tournament’s quarterfinal round at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.