The Quinnipiac volleyball team swept the University of Hartford, 3-0, to earn its first win of the season as the Quinnipiac Invitational came to an end Saturday night in Burt Kahn Court. The Bobcats improved to 1-8 on the season.
“It’s a relief,” Quinnipiac head coach Robin Lamott Sparks said. “We’ve known we had the athleticism and the skills to do it. To finally get a win is really helpful and especially the way we did it, coming back every set.”
After losing three straight sets earlier that day to Dartmouth College, the Bobcats bounced back to win all three sets, 27-25, against the Hawks. In the second set, the Bobcats won the first point to take their first lead, but were unable to regain another lead as the team trailed 21-15. Quinnipiac scored seven consecutive points and earned its second lead of the set, 22-21, on a kill by junior Stephanie Biediger. The Bobcats posted two more points before the Hawks evened the score at 24. Freshman middle hitter Olivia Grattan and sophomore right side hitter Taylor Payne crushed back-to-back kills to secure a 27-25 win for the set.
“To be down as bad as they were, 21-15, and to come all the way back and win, that only helps to build confidence,” Sparks said.
Junior setter Kayla Lawler set a new personal career-high of 43 assists for a three-set match. Grattan and Biediger had 12 kills apiece to lead the Bobcats against the Hawks. Payne added nine kills, while junior outside hitter Kelby Carey had eight kills and a team-high 14 digs. The Bobcats finished the contest with a 29.5 attack percentage while the Hawks had a 13.0 attack percentage.
Against Dartmouth, the Bobcats fell in straight sets, 25-20, 27-25, 25-17.
“We played really well against Dartmouth,” Sparks said. “Dartmouth is no slouch of a team. We just talked about doing the same thing we’ve been doing.”
Biediger had a team-high eight kills and 16 digs against the Big Green. Carey had a team-high 19 digs and seven kills, while sophomore libero Logan Riker registered 12 digs. Grattan added a team-high five blocks.
The Bobcats fell to St. Peter’s College, 3-1, on Friday in the opening round of the tournament. The Bobcats won the first set 25-21, but could not secure the victory in the last three sets. Carey had a career-high 25 digs in the game.
“I think we started pressing too hard,” Sparks said. “We mentally started giving those mistakes a bigger weight than they should have. Volleyball is so mental and that’s what beat us, our heads.”
Biediger and Riker were named to the Quinnipiac Invitational All-Tournament Team. Biediger finished the tournament with 25 kills and 34 digs, seeing her first action in almost two years after returning from injury. Lawler recorded 110 assists and 22 digs in the three matches.
In closing the tournament with a victory, the team set a new floor for themselves, according to Sparks.
“Every week, we just think that’s our floor, we can’t go down. That’s a pretty high floor we’ve got going on right now,” Sparks said.
The Quinnipiac volleyball team will take to the Allan P. Kirby Sports Center at 3 p.m. Friday, when they face Delaware State as part of the Lafayette Invitational in Easton, Pa.
Photo credit: Vanessa Stier