The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac volleyball’s undefeated start to MAAC play seems too good to be true

Tyler Rinko
Head coach Kyle Robinson is leading the Bobcats to their best MAAC start since 2016.

 Nearly a full calendar year ago, Quinnipiac volleyball began a historic stretch of dominance. 

The Bobcats have been 17-1 in MAAC play since October of last year, their only loss coming in straight sets at home to Fairfield in October 2022. After that loss, the Bobcats won seven-straight matches, resulting in their first-ever conference title. 

Miraculously, that win streak has continued well into this season. Quinnipiac presently sits at 6-0 in the MAAC, tying the 2016 team for the best start to conference play in program history. 

After witnessing the Cinderella story, there’s only one question that has not been asked: When is the clock going to strike midnight? 

That 6-0 record may look really pretty on your newspaper or computer screen, but it took a lot of ugly moments to get there. 

It took coming back from a 2-0 set deficit against Marist on Sept. 23. It took a 32-30 victory in the fourth set to clinch a win over Iona on Sept. 30. And it took a grueling five sets to take down Manhattan on Oct. 1, a team picked to finish last in the preseason coaches’ poll. 

Frankly, this team is not playing any different than it did in 2022, when it started its MAAC schedule a dismal 2-7. The team knows it. They can get better. 

“The other teams are always coming for us,” sophomore setter Damla Gunes said. “We’re actually the hunted team now. So we should have expected (poor play) like this … but I’m glad that we didn’t give up.” 

However, for the Bobcats, things are just going their way more often, and their reward is atop of the MAAC standings. 

This team has the potential to keep steamrolling its way to 13-0 if it wants to. The next major test in front of it is a match 30 miles down the Merritt Parkway against Fairfield this Friday. 

The Stags handled the Bobcats in the 2022 regular season, winning all six sets played by an average of nearly nine points. This year, the 5-1 Fairfield Stags are right behind the Bobcats, their only loss coming in five sets to Marist. Quinnipiac will need to bring everything it has to win this match, but if it does, it is reasonable to assume that the rest of MAAC play will be smooth sailing. 

The team has too much talent to fail, despite the shaky starts. 

Offensively, countless weapons have emerged as the season continues. The two biggest surprises have been sophomore hitter Yagmur Gunes and freshman hitter Leilani-kai Giusta. 

Yagmur is in the midst of a breakout campaign where she is averaging 3.1 kills per set, up from 0.76 in 2022. Giusta is making an impact as well, averaging 3.32 kills per set on .169 hitting. The pair combined for five weekly awards in the month of September. Yagmur won two player of the week honors and Giusta won two rookie of the week awards and one player of the week. 

However, the pairing has been overshadowed recently by the return of sophomore hitter Ginevra Giovagnoni, who missed some time with a recurring abdominal injury. Since her first game back on Sept. 23 against Marist, Giovagnoni has accumulated 72 kills and 43 digs, first and second on the team respectively over that span. 

With Giovagnoni consistently in the lineup, Robinson is now forced to manage his talent more closely. Giusta did not miss a set during the matches where Giovagnoni was injured. However, since Giovagnoni’s return, Giusta only played in eight of the 18 total sets the team went through. 

“We’ve got so many people at the position that I didn’t want to bring (Giusta) in at all,” Robinson said after the Bobcats’ win over Iona on Sept. 30. “Because we have them, I would like to have a fresh hitter every match we play. Someone who’s hungry. Someone who (is healthy) and is ready to go out and get after it.” 

The final curiosity regarding this squad is the near absence of junior libero Fa’avae Kimsel Moe. After being the team’s primary libero during her freshman and sophomore seasons, Kimsel Moe’s role has been usurped by graduate student hitter Aryanah Diaz. 

This roster move is confusing. Diaz now has her abilities on the court limited by the position she plays. During previous seasons, she was both a consistent offensive threat and defensive unit, but now she is just on the defensive end. Diaz is playing well in that spot, but she should be allowed to be the all-around excellent player that she is. 

Kimsel Moe has been relegated to a rotational role, coming in to serve for players like senior middle blocker Lexi Morse. She has not played very well, letting balls get by her and sending serves right into the net, but it’s difficult to blame her. Coming in for maybe three plays every set or two does not equate to a player who will be engaged and ready to dominate in the game. 

Even with the confusing roster management and shaky play on the court, this team still has not faced the ultimate consequence of losing a match. The clock is ticking on this team, but it’s not midnight just yet. It’s probably closer to 11 p.m. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor
Tyler Rinko
Tyler Rinko, Associate Photography Editor

Comments (0)

All The Quinnipiac Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *