Quinnipiac volleyball concludes historic season with valiant effort in loss to No. 1 Wisconsin


Cameron Levasseur

Quinnipiac volleyball saw its most successful season of all-time in 2022, winning eight of its final nine regular season games before winning the program’s first MAAC Title and NCAA Tournament berth.

Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor

MADISON, WI – In the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament match, the Quinnipiac volleyball team fell in straight sets to the top-seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Friday, ending a historic season for the Bobcats, which included their first conference title and winningest stretch since going Division I in 1998. 

In order to have a shot against the defending national champion Badgers, the Bobcats needed to handle the near-sellout crowd of more than 7,000 wild Wisconsin fans. 

The first set produced an environment that was unlike anything the MAAC will ever or could ever hope to produce, as the Wisconsin crowd and student section kept the field house loud and rowdy. 

As to be expected, the noise was not going to be a factor in Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson’s gameplan. In fact, it was embraced.

“I think it was one of the coolest things that we could have experienced together,” graduate student middle blocker Nicole Legg said. “We talked about this in the locker room. This incentivizes us to make this community and this environment at our school back home.”

The Bobcats were able to hang around with the Badgers for a while in the first set. Quinnipiac kept it as close as a two point deficit midway through before the Badgers went on a 12-4 run, taking the first frame 25-15 and acquiring a one to nothing lead in the match.

The Quinnipiac defense kept the Bobcats in it, scooping up 18 digs, but the offense could not get anything going. Quinnipiac hitters were held to four total kills on -.118 hitting. 

While the Bobcats had some momentum in the first set, it was clearly all used up. Quinnipiac’s offensive woes continued into the second set, with most hitters barely being able to crack a positive hitting percentage. 

However, if the momentum was gone, the effort surely wasn’t. Every single hit attempt from the Badgers was matched by a Bobcat willing to put her body on the line to keep that play alive.

If Quinnipiac was an object, then Wisconsin was certainly the force that was able to move it, as the Badgers took the second set 25-9. 

The moment where the match became solidified in Wisconsin’s favor came halfway through the second set. The speakers at the UW Field House were playing the song “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations. Once the song stopped playing, the crowd sang on, serenading their dear Badgers for another minute, only stopping once the offense got a kill.

By the third set, the Bobcats were just out of gas. A season full of monumental comebacks and winning streaks came down to one final back and forth. The effort was still there, but the Badgers were just not tired. 

Wisconsin took Quinnipiac by the hand and gently guided them into the conclusion of the Bobcats’ greatest season in program history. 

The Badgers went on runs of 6-0, 11-0 and 7-0, winning the set 25-4 and the match in straight sets. They now advance to play TCU in the second round on Saturday at 6 p.m. CST. 

After all was said and done, Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield had nothing but praise for Quinnipiac. 

“Hats off to Quinnipiac,” Sheffield said. “What a great season. The first half of their conference season, they went 2-7, and in the second half they went 8-1. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team flip it like that, then to go into the conference tournament seeded sixth and then go on to win.”

With the 2022 season now at a close, the program will say goodbye to Legg, who chose to return for her graduate season in order to say she spent more time at Quinnipiac than her previous school, South Florida, where she played her freshman and sophomore year. In her three seasons as a Bobcat, Legg earned both All-MAAC First Team and Second Team honors, all while leading the program on a path it had never been before.

“Back in the locker room when we started the season, (senior hitter Aryanah Diaz) and I had this one goal. That was to build a family, and that’s exactly what we did,” Legg said.

That family will now walk into the offseason, where the main goal is to get the rest they so rightfully deserve.

“Now, we’ll just go home and enjoy it,’ Robinson said. “We’re going to enjoy the moments, enjoy the time off, and get back to our friends, family and our social lives that we put on hold … We shouldn’t be touching a volleyball until February.”

Now that the squad knows what it takes to reach this pinnacle, there is no doubt in their mind that they can return to that peak in 2023.

“I don’t think I have any question of whether the girls in this squad right now are gonna come in next year shaky or not,” Diaz said. “We have a good foundation right now, and I think it’s just gonna keep getting better.”