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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Fairfield blocks Quinnipiac from back-to-back MAAC titles

Peyton McKenzie
The Quinnipiac volleyball team reacts after falling to Fairfield in the 2023 MAAC Championship on Nov. 19, 2023.

FAIRFIELD – Pride and tears. There isn’t any other way to summarize the 3-1 loss Quinnipiac volleyball suffered to Fairfield in the MAAC Championship game Sunday. 

It’s the fourth set. The score is 24-20 Stags. Fairfield’s sophomore outside hitter Allie Elliott’s on the serve. A kill from Quinnipiac’s sophomore Ginevra Giovagnoni is saved by Fairfield’s senior libero Kyla Berg. 

A miscommunicated set from Bobcats sophomore setter Damla Gunes forces graduate outside hitter Aryanah Diaz to pass an easy ball back to Fairfield. Fairfield’s sophomore middle blocker Maya Walker gets an opportunity for a kill. The hand of Quinnipiac’s junior libero Fa’avae Kimsel Moe reaches just short of the ball.

The ball’s in —  and Leo D. Mahoney Arena erupts as Fairfield becomes the 2023 MAAC Champion. And the Bobcats leave the court with their heads hung low. 

There’s no way to even try to describe what the team felt in that moment. 

They went 19-10 on the season and 14-4 in conference. Gunes and Giovagnoni were named to the All-MAAC First Team and Gunes became the program’s first ever setter of the year. Diaz was named into the All-MAAC Second Team and freshman outside hitter Leilani-kai Giusta earned her spot in the All-MAAC Rookie Team. 

And just as the perfect ending to this season was right in front of them — Fairfield bested them yet again. 

Despite the statistics, Quinnipiac’s play has been inconsistent throughout its last few games. While that might’ve been fine with other teams, any easy mistake against Fairfield tonight was capitalized on immediately by the Stags. 

But the Bobcats are nothing if not fighters, a fact that they have proven multiple times in the season. Despite being two sets down in Fairfield’s home arena that was deeply rooting against them, an early run in the third set gave them an 8-1 advantage that the Stags weren’t able to close. 

Quinnipiac simply refused to go down without a fight.

“I’m not gonna speak for them, we’re assuming their mindset was just do or die out there,” head coach Kyle Robinson said. “When you have to fight, when it’s do or die, true champions fight back and that’s what our team did.” 

Tensions were high, which is to be expected when you play against your biggest rival at their home turf. Booing, whistling and chants from the student section of “You can’t stop her!” whenever Fairfield scored – or “You can’t do that!” if Quinnipiac made an error, were a common occurrence. 

“I wasn’t bothered or surprised by it,” Robinson said. “ I think it’s standard from a championship match.”

And yet the frustration became more and more visible on the Bobcat’s faces as the game progressed. Gunes earned herself a yellow card in the final set after a contested point was taken off of Quinnipiac. Despite having only 12 attack errors in the previous three sets, the Bobcats equaled that in the last one. 

The stars just weren’t aligned for them today.  

After the game, Giovagnoni and Diaz were acknowledged into the MAAC All-Championship Team. While Giovagnoni managed to force a smile, Diaz stood with tears in her eyes. This game was her very last one as a Quinnipiac Bobcat. 

After five years, 1068 kills and 1394 digs, Diaz leaves the team as one of the most decorated players in the program’s history.

“There’s no words,”  Robinson said on Diaz leaving as he fought the tears. “You can’t replace an Aryanah Diaz, as a volleyball player but also outside of the game. We’re lucky to have had her. It’s gonna be tough seeing her move on, but that’s life, you know.”  

Diaz left her last game as she always did, leading the team with 20 kills and seven digs. She sat on the bleachers post game, looking solemnly at the court in her Quinnipiac hoodie.   

Along with her, seniors, setter Chloe Ka’ahanui – who despite being out for injury was dressed on the sidelines today – and middle blocker Lexi Morse are leaving the team as well. 

Last year the underdog Cinderella story made the volleyball world aware of the Quinnipiac Bobcats. This year, it proved they deserve the respect put on its name.  

“I was proud of what we did this season, proud of our work,” Robinson said, his head held high even as emotions clouded his voice. “I’m proud of the competition and the way we competed.”

A loss like this hurts. It was obvious in the tears shed by the players, it was obvious by the somber silence of the Quinnipiac faithful that followed them to Fairfield. 

Quinnipiac had an incredible run. All that’s left now is to look forward to next year. 

And with that, the 2023 season comes to an end.  

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About the Contributors
Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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