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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Breaking down each challenge in Quinnipiac volleyball’s semifinal win over Iona

Cameron Levasseur
Officials come together to discuss a call made in Quinnipiac volleyball’s semifinal match against Iona on Nov. 18.

FAIRFIELD – Video review has been a hotly-contested issue in the sports world ever since instant replay was invented in the 1960s.

In the National Football League, teams are given two challenges to contest an official ruling each game. If they win both, they will receive a third, but never does a team get the chance to contest more than three. It’s a fairly civilized rule that’s hard to abuse. 

Video review in volleyball on the other hand, leaves the door open for abuse. In Quinnipiac volleyball’s 3-1 victory against Iona in the MAAC Semifinals on Saturday, Iona head coach Andy Mueller proved that.

Teams are allotted two challenges per match, but if they win the challenge, the challenges are retained. It’s that last point that allowed Mueller to challenge five calls throughout the four-set match, winning four in a row before losing the final one. For reference, Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson challenged zero.

Let’s break down each of Mueller’s challenges:

First Set  

Score prior to the challenge: 21-17 QU

After a decent rally, graduate student hitter Aryanah Diaz tools the Iona block. That would have been her third kill of the game so far, but it didn’t stand. 

Earlier in the rally, sophomore setter Damla Gunes laid out to keep the play alive, eventually leading to the Diaz kill. Iona thought the ball hit the ground, and it was correct.

Gunes saw the challenge as a way for the Bobcats to rally around each other, whether they thought the ruling was correct or not.

“Sometimes (challenges) also fire us up,” Gunes said. “My ball was up obviously, and then they called it down.”

Instead of a Diaz kill, the new ruling is reversed to a kill for Iona sophomore hitter Mackenzie Wiggins.

Score after the challenge: 20-18 QU

Graduate student hitter Aryanah Diaz readies for an attack against Iona on Nov. 18. (Peyton McKenzie)

Second Set 

Score prior to the challenge: 12-9 QU

Iona senior hitter Morgan Madasz sends a left-handed shot across the court that seems to clip the left edge of Quinnipiac’s defense. The officials call it out of bounds. 

“That looks very in,” ESPN+ color commentator Emma Rose said as she viewed the replay on-air. 

She was correct. 

A Madasz attack error becomes a kill, her fourth of the game to that point. 

Score after the challenge: 11-10 QU

Third Set 

Score prior to the challenge: 19-18 QU

At the end of a rally, Quinnipiac sophomore hitter Ginevra Giovagnoni launches a ball into the block of Madasz and freshman middle blocker Ezzie Thompson. The ball falls behind Giovagnoni to her left, right on the boundary line. 

The refs call it out of bounds, Quinnipiac’s point. Mueller disagrees again. The refs switch up. A ball that lands on the boundary line is definitely in. 

The kill from Giovagnoni now is an attack error. She had 27 kills on the evening of her 21st birthday; it could have been 28 if the ball fell just an inch or so more to the left.

The Bobcats lost this set 25-20. There was an obvious momentum shift after this call was made. Morale can be hard to come by in these instances, but Quinnipiac at least looks for it. 

“We just give feedback to each other and talk about what we just did,” Giovagnoni said. “We just say, ‘Guys, we know they’re going to take the point. Let’s focus on the next one.’ So we got the next one. Don’t stress yourself too much.”

Score after the challenge: 19-18 Iona

Fourth Set  

Score prior to the first challenge: 19-14 QU

As the Bobcats try to close out a match that could very easily slip away from them, Damla finds her sister Yagmur for a kill. 

Iona contests that a Bobcat found her way into the net at one point during the play. Yagmur was nowhere near the net on the play, so who made contact? Sophomore middle blocker Bailey Brashear. She allegedly clipped the netting as she went up for an attack at the same time as Yagmur. 

However, there was a point where Brashear may have more realistically stepped on the center line Either way, the Gaels earned the point.

“What a break for Iona,” ESPN+ play-by-play commentator JJ Duke said. 

Instead of a Yagmur kill, the kill was then credited to Thompson on Iona. Going 4-4 in a baseball game is one thing, but going 4-4 on challenges is a different kind of impressive.

Score after the first challenge: 18-15 QU

Sophomore hitter Yagmur Gunes lines up to receive a ball from the Iona attack in Quinnipiac’s semifinal match on Nov. 18. (Peyton McKenzie)

Score prior to the second challenge: 20-15 QU

Just two minutes later, Mueller pulled out his green challenge card again, for what was the last time in the match and his 2023 season. 

After having a kill taken off the board moments before, Yagmur launched a ball from the back line right at MAAC Libero of the Year Hope Matschner, who couldn’t corral it. 

Mueller wanted the officials to check if Yagmur’s attack from the back row was illegal. An illegal back-row attack is classified as when one of the back-row players steps in front of the 10-foot line to attack. However, being airborne in front of the line is legal. Yagmur left her feet behind the line, so for the first time all match, the officials disagreed with Mueller.

A Yagmur kill remains that way. In celebration, Robinson does a shimmy dance. 

Score after the second challenge: 20-15 QU


For situations like a challenge leading to a video review, it can leave a lot of people in the dark on what is being challenged, or that a challenge is even happening at all. That should be made more clear to the fans in attendance, not just the teams. Not even the coaches are allowed to talk about the challenge as it’s being reviewed. 

“We’re not allowed to talk to (the officials) during the review,” Robinson said. “We’re just kind of sitting back and waiting to find out the outcome.”

Robinson realizes that regardless of what ruling is made, he works to keep tensions between him and the officials to a minimum for the sake of his team. 

“I think you watch sports enough that you see athletes and coaches getting on the refs and officials,” Robinson said. “I like to kill them with kindness and keep it light and fun. I’m sure I get the benefit of the doubt on some calls because I do that instead of beating them up all the time.”

In the end, Iona may have gotten four out of five challenges correct in the match, but it was Quinnipiac that won three out of four sets. Losing those points you worked hard for can be tough, but the Bobcats got them back time and again. 

“If everyone is working against us, we’re going to work together,” Damla said. “That’s the kind of mentality that we have.”

If Fairfield head coach Nancy Somera challenges five calls today, that will be amazing, because before Mueller did that yesterday, it wasn’t even made clear that was possible.

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

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