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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

Quinnipiac starts first weekend of MAAC play 2-0, beats Canisius in straight sets

Anthony Salvato
The Quinnipiac volleyball team celebrates starting MAAC play 2-0 after defeating Canisius in straight sets.

HAMDEN, Conn. – After beating Niagara on Saturday in straight sets, Quinnipiac volleyball went right back to the grindstone winning in straight sets against the Canisius Golden Griffins on Sunday.

Bobcats sophomore setter Damla Gunes recorded an ace on the first play of the game, immediately setting the tone. Thanks to Damla Gunes, Canisius started the game scared of the Quinnipiac serve. The Golden Griffins had trouble finding a good first pass for the first 25 combined points of the set, allowing the Bobcats to jump out to a sizable lead.

To Quinnipiac Head Coach Kyle Robinson, play at the service line is the team’s top priority. 

“We look at service as our primary weapon, we have a lot of very, very good servers on our team,” Robinson said. “It’s very important to me, from just a tactical standpoint. In my opinion, if you can serve well in most NCAA leagues, you can win a lot of matches. So we put a lot of emphasis on our serve.”

The main reason that Canisius stayed in the first set at all was thanks to their blocks. Quinnipiac is a short team, with their tallest hitter standing at six feet, one inch, while Canisius’ tallest player stands at six feet, three inches. In a sport like volleyball, that makes all the difference. 

Canisius cut the lead to 15-10 thanks to a couple of blocked hits, but the Bobcats were able to adjust. By taking a deep breath, getting off good first passes, and looking poised in their passing defense, Quinnipiac forged its way ahead. With one last kill from junior opposite Alexandra Tennon, Quinnipiac put the first set away.

Tennon has played a big role in the Bobcats’ recent success, although she may not always be recognized for it. Robinson made sure to differentiate the fact that while some may not see her value because of inconsistent numbers, she’s extremely valued by himself and the team. 

“Her play has always been pretty good. I mean she was somewhat inconsistent last year, but when she was on, she stood out,” Robinson said. “I definitely don’t want to be playing against her, or without her, right? So we let her know that every day.”

Quinnipiac got out to a much rockier start in the second set. Its defensive front struggled to find its footing early and Canisius limited its errors all around. The set drew even at seven when the Bobcats finally turned up the gas. A big kill from sophomore middle blocker Bailey Brashear and two more from Tennon got the Bobcats rolling, and it was relatively smooth sailing from there. 

The Gunes twins made big adjustments down the stretch. Sophomore outside hitter Yagmur Gunes initially had trouble with the Canisius block, but began swinging towards the arms of the blockers differently, securing several key points as a result. Damla Gunes went to work on the offensive end, setting up dimes for every weapon the Bobcats have. On defense however, she struggled a bit when the Golden Griffins outside hitters swung cross court towards her. At the end of set two, Damla Gunes scooped up a crucial ball to keep the rally alive, and eventually Quinnipiac finished off the set with another win.

That momentum carried over into set three for the Bobcats. Graduate student outside hitter Aryanah Diaz looked right at home at the service line despite battling an abdominal strain injury. Both middles were swinging confidently, and freshman outside hitter Leilani-kai Giusta finished the game with double-digit kills, leading the team. 

The Bobcats weren’t free of mistakes themselves, however. At times they struggled getting their feet set on defense, offensive plays with the middle blockers were inconsistent, and Robinson expressed frustrations about his own team’s service errors as well. However,volleyball is unforgiving; mistakes are rampant and are bound to happen. But no matter the situation, Robinson continues to place what feels like unconditional love and trust to his team.

“They’re not playing to make errors; they’re playing to be consistent. Our sport, in any sport, it comes and it goes,” Robinson said. “It’s always a priority to try to be at our best, but when you’re pushing it, it doesn’t always go your way. But that’s just the beauty of athletics.”

Quinnipiac is next in action on Sept. 23. at 1 p.m. when it travels to Marist to continue MAAC play.  


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