By Josh Veltrie
The volleyball team continued to struggle as the Broncs dropped both conference games without winning a set last weekend. Rider lost at Niagara, 3-0, on Saturday and then traveled to Canisius where the Broncs lost 3-0 once more on Sunday.
The loss against Canisius made it 11 in a row for Rider and four in a row in conference play. Against Niagara (8-8, 3-1 MAAC), Rider (1-12, 0-4 MAAC) lost 25-17, 25-18 and 25-14.
“Both matches had their ups and downs,” said head coach Emily Ahlquist. “We had a couple bright spots and I’m proud the girls kept on fighting throughout the matches.”
Sophomores Stephanie Nagy and Haley Wilson played well for the Broncs, with Nagy compiling seven kills and Wilson having 15 digs. Senior Elyse Grassmuck had 11 assists while senior Amanda Piccolini had nine assists and six digs.
In its first three conference matches this season, Rider has played two of the four teams that made the playoffs last season, Fairfield and Niagara.
The Broncs have not fared well against the Purple Eagles the past two seasons, getting swept 3-0 twice last season. Niagara has had Rider’s number as the Purple Eagles have won 13 of 19 matches against the Broncs.
Against Canisius (8-8, 4-0 MAAC), Rider lost 25-14, 25-14 and 25-18, but there was a bright spot in the loss. Freshman Megan Knott had nine kills, seven digs and two blocks while accounting for 10 of Rider’s 36 points. Piccolini had 26 assists in the defeat.
“Megan is transitioning really well from high school to the college level,” Ahlquist said. “Every day she’s understanding the game a little bit more and improving.”
During the first two sets, the Broncs kept it close early before the Golden Griffins put together runs of 15-2 and 9-3, respectively, to pull away from Rider. The third set saw the Broncs battle to make the score 16-15 in favor of Canisius before the Golden Griffins took control with a 6-1 run to lock up the final set.
The match saw 10 ties, half of which came in the third set, with only four lead changes throughout the three sets.
Senior Kristy Love had a solid match with eight kills and two blocks. The loss to Canisius made it 10 in a row against the conference rival. The Golden Griffins have dominated the all-time series, losing only three times out of 19 matches.
The Broncs will look for its first conference win Saturday against Iona (9-5, 3-1 MAAC) before coming home to play Siena (3-10, 2-2 MAAC) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Having a split weekend is very tough. Sometimes the opposing team gets to campus before you get back,” Ahlquist said. “That’s the way the schedule is though and we’re not making any excuses. We’re looking forward to coming home and playing in front of our home crowd on Sunday.”