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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 volleyball to face Iona in MAAC Semifinals

Peyton McKenzie

Early Friday evening, the No. 6-seeded Iona volleyball team upset No. 3 Marist in a five-set thriller to open the 2023 MAAC Volleyball Tournament. 

The Gaels’ victory sent them to the semifinal round where they will duel with the defending champions, the No. 2 Quinnipiac Bobcats, whose 14-4 record in the MAAC helped them earn a first-round bye. 

Despite 69 combined kills from newly-minted MAAC Player of the Year Sasha van der Merwe (28), Gabriella Heimbauer (20) and Jordan Newblatt (21), Iona’s block, defense and stellar play from the service line helped it pull off the come-from-behind victory. The Red Foxes’ loss was their fourth straight in the MAAC Tournament dating back to 2019. 

“Hats off to Marist, they had an incredible season,” Iona head coach Andy Mueller said on the ESPN+ broadcast. “We’re really excited to advance …  At the end of the day, when I look up into that huddle, we see 19 sets of eyes just locked in from the first whistle to the last.”

The Bobcats swept Iona in the regular season, winning 3-1 in New Rochelle on Sept. 30 and sweeping the Gaels in Hamden on Oct. 25. However, Iona has serious momentum after Friday’s win. 

For the Bobcats to get an elusive third win against the Gaels this season, the defense must cool off sophomore hitter Mackenzie Wiggins, who had 23 kills against Marist, while the offense must find ways to attack MAAC Libero of the Year Hope Matschner, who scooped up 51 digs against the Bobcats in their previous two matchups combined. 

Quinnipiac did this well the last two times against Iona, so players like sophomore hitter Ginevra Giovagnoni, MAAC Setter of the Year Damla Gunes, senior middle blocker Lexi Morse and graduate student hitter Aryanah Diaz need to step up like they usually do, and that’s not to exclude the rest of the roster. 

“There’s a core group that’s going to have to carry the load from here on out,” Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson said on Oct. 25. “The sync with this group is very nice, and as you can see, they’re doing some really good things … When we can get everyone involved, it’s a nice luxury to have.”

If the Bobcats can keep up their energy against the Gaels at 6 p.m., then they will almost definitely be in line to play in their second straight MAAC title game. That match will be against the winner of the first semifinal between the No. 5 Rider Broncs and the No. 1 Fairfield Stags at 3 p.m. 

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About the Contributors
Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca, Opinion Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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