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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Bobcats win one match, drop two at Columbia Invitational

Cameron Levasseur
Quinnipiac volleyball earned its first NCAA Tournament berth in 2022, falling to Wisconsin in straight sets in the opening round.

Game 1: Bobcats struggle in Columbia Invitational Opener

By Anthony Salvato

The reigning MAAC Volleyball champion Quinnipiac Bobcats fell to 1-3 on the season after dropping their opening match of the Columbia invitational to Virginia in four sets Friday. 

After a close opening set which the Bobcats won 25-22, they dropped the next three sets to the Cavaliers.

The Bobcats took a tightly contested first set with the combined efforts of hitters sophomore Yagmur Gunes and freshman Leilani-kai Giusta. Both underclassmen combined for 31 kills on the day, while also capitalizing on five Cavalier service errors in the opening set. The Cavaliers would finish the day with 16 total service errors to the Bobcats’ five. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, these errors would not provide enough help for them in the following three sets.

Virginia jumped out to an 11-4 lead to start the second set and appeared to be in control. That was until Quinnipiac brought the set to within three points and forced the Cavaliers to call a timeout as a result of the run they put together. But in the end, it was the Cavaliers who outscored the Bobcats 2-1 and closed out the second set 25-21 to even the score.

The Cavaliers marched on in the third set, registering a convincing 25-14 win in which the Bobcats never seemed to stand a chance, despite three more service errors from Virginia early on. The Cavaliers went up early and continued to pile on points after a Bobcats time out. From there, Virginia would score eight of the nine final points in the game to jump out to a 2-1 lead.

Quinnipiac was on its heels to start the fourth and final set, trailing 8-3 before Bobcats head coach Kyle Robinson called his first timeout of the set which preceded a four-point Bobcat run to put them within reach. Quinnipiac kept it close in the latter half of the set, winning four straight set points to make it a 24-22 game until Cavaliers freshman outside hitter Lauryn Bowie put a ball just out of reach for a diving Giusta to seal the set and the match for Virginia by a final score of 3-1.

Quinnipiac has had quite the atypical beginning to a season for a reigning conference champion, yet last year’s championship team started out 2-8 in its first 10 games before a magical run through the MAAC Tournament and a bid to the NCAA tournament.


Game 2: Bobcats’ woes continue against Fordham in Columbia Invitational

By Anthony Salvato

In a near-identical situation to Friday’s match versus Virginia, Quinnipiac volleyball lost in four sets to Fordham Saturday after winning the first, then dropping the next three in succession in their second match at the Columbia Invitational. 

Quinnipiac was once again led by the duo of outside hitters Leilani-kai Giusta, a freshman, and Yagmur Gunes , a sophomore, who each registered 15 kills on the day. Gunes also led the Bobcats in aces, tallying three of Quinnipiac’s eight in the match. 

Like in Friday’s match, the first set was even most of the way, with Quinnipiac pulling away at the end to take an early one-set lead. 

Fordham’s loss in the opening set was just the fourth set they had conceded all season, and the reasons behind that success was put on full display in the second set. The Rams dominated Quinnipiac in the next two sets, led by senior outside hitter Whitley Moody who had 17 kills on the day. Fordham out hit the Bobcats, registering a .278 hit percentage compared to Quinnipiac’s -0.024 in set two and out hit Quinnipiac .276 to .121 in the match.

The Rams were in control to start the final set, getting out to an early 10-point lead. Quinnipiac made the set interesting toward the end, climbing back to within five points before Moody ended the set and the match for the Rams with a final kill. 

The Bobcats fell to 1-3 to start the 2023 campaign with the loss. Quinnipiac is next in action on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. when it takes on Gardner-Webb in the Henson Hawk Invitational. 


Game 3: Bobcats escape concrete jungle battered, but not broken

By Zachary Reagan

Quinnipiac volleyball ended its stint in the Big Apple with a win Saturday night, sweeping the Columbia Lions 3-0. This win was an important one for the Bobcats, who lost in four sets to both Virginia and Fordham earlier in the weekend. 

In both of the previous games, Quinnipiac came out on top in the first set, but were promptly reverse swept. The Bobcats knew they couldn’t leave New York empty handed, so they came in with a clean slate mentality for their final game

The first set started with back-and-forth play, with Quinnipiac only giving up points on serving errors. The Bobcats made few mistakes otherwise, looking poised on defense and ready to counter on the offensive end. 

The hitting trio of sophomore outside hitter Yagmur Gunes, junior opposite hitter Alexandra Tennon and first-year outside hitter Leilani-kai Giusta each totaled two kills apiece early in the set, putting the Bobcats up 9-5. Giusta earned her keep in the match, leading both teams in kills and tying her career high with 16.

Sophomore setter Damla Gunes continued to spread the wealth in the first set, with each of the three previously mentioned hitters clocking in four kills by the time the score hit 17-11 in favor of Quinnipiac. However, the Bobcats had their fair share of adversity to overcome in this first set, with Columbia going on a late 5-1 run to cut the score to 20-17.

Fortunately for the Bobcats, graduate-student hitter Aryanah Diaz, took on a new role in  this invitational. Sporting the gold libero jersey, Diaz picked up a rocket of a spike from Columbia sophomore opposite hitter Eva Atkins, which Giusta capitalized on to capture the first set 25-19.

The second set started right where Quinnipiac left off, with Giusta making an extremely crafty adjustment at the net to tip a ball right off of another Columbia blocker, pushing the Bobcats out to an early 3-0 lead.

As both the second and third sets began to wear on, the Columbia block was  something Quinnipiac had to keep close tabs on. The Bobcats’s tallest hitter at any given time was Giusta, standing at six foot even, while Columbia’s main blockers all had at least two inches on her. That’s not even mentioning Quinnipiac’s other main hitters, with Yagmur Gunes and Tennon each standing at five foot, eight inches, respectively.

The adjustments were quick on Quinnipiac’s end, with Yagmur Gunes hammering in a kill from the back row to extend the Bobcats lead to 7-3 in the second set. 

After that thrilling connection from the Gunes sisters, the Lions realized that the set was do or die. Since the Bobcats had shown they could lose momentum quickly in the second and third sets, the Lions’ time to pounce was now. They quickly evened up the score at seven, in large part thanks to their larger block, and soon both teams were switching possession deep into the set. 

Finally, late in the set, Tennon took advantage of a pass that went too high by tapping it straight down, and then coming right back for a cross court swing to mark down two consecutive kills. Paired with some stellar play at the service line from Yagmur Gunes, the Bobcats took set two, 25-17.

In the third set, the Bobcats made sure to keep their claws at the throat of the Lions. Yagmur Gunes refused to relent from the service line, upping her total aces in the match to five. Tennon played excellent on both sides of the ball, using what size she has to put up a formidable block, in addition to spicing up her hitting game with some crucial rolls down the stretch. 

Leading the game with 18 total digs,  Diaz barely let the ball touch the floor. Her passes were precise, and she played with a veteran awareness. Although she didn’t get to hit for practically this entire Columbia invitational, Diaz was the one to get the game-winning ace.

This game leaves expectations high for the Bobcats, as MAAC play rapidly approaches.  Quinnipiac is next in action on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. when they take on Gardner-Webb in the Henson Hawk Invitational in Princess Anne, Maryland. 

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Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

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