By Carlos Toro
After being handed their first in-conference loss at the hands of Fairfield on Oct. 11, the volleyball team defeated Quinnipiac to finish their homestand by winning four of five.
Head Coach Christopher Feliciano was proud of the group’s performance against the Bobcats (2-18, 0-8 MAAC) and for rebounding after having their seven-game win streak snapped.
“I thought that we were much more disciplined today than we were yesterday (against Fairfield),” Feliciano said. “Very proud of the girls bouncing back after a tough loss.”
Rider (12-8, 6-1 MAAC) got off to a slow start on Oct. 12 and was losing 8-6 in the first set, but a kill from junior middle hitter Nicole Moorman jump-started a big rally for the Broncs. The team won the next seven points and quickly gained control of the game.
The Bobcats managed to get within two points of Rider’s lead only once in the first set as Rider took it 25-20.
The Broncs didn’t have trouble in the second set as momentum kept growing on their side.
The Broncs started the second set on a 12-6 run. Statistically, Rider had their best offensive set of the match, scoring on nearly 52 percent of their attacks.
Rider sophomore outside hitter Ryan Ackermann, who had nine kills, tying a game-high for the Broncs, thinks the team rebounded nicely and played well as a unit.
“We said before the game that we needed to forget yesterday,” Ackermann said. “We just came in there, knowing what we needed to do, made adjustments if we needed to. We played a really solid game.”
Rider, dominant throughout the entire second set, won 25-16.
In the third set, Quinnipiac was neck-and-neck with the Broncs for the first half. Rider had to call its first timeout of the match when it was leading 11-10.
Rider came out of the timeout fired up, as Quinnipiac could not keep up with the Bronc offense and they rolled to a 25-20 win to finish the match.
Several Broncs played well in the game including sophomore middle hitter Kaitlyn Griffin, who had eight kills and an attack percentage of .533; senior setter Ashlee Amatulli, who had 16 assists; and freshman right side hitter Jennifer Borio, who finished with nine kills and had an attack percentage of .500.
The team has had to face a lot of obstacles this year. The Broncs started their season playing 13 of their first 15 games on the road, including a Southern Cali team that was No. 5 in the country at the time. They are also playing without junior setter Brandie Hill, who is out with an injury.
Freshman setter Veronica Koval has been able to step up in the meantime, leading the team with 21 assists in the game against Quinnipiac. She is excited to leave an impression on the opponents and have the opportunity to play.
“Being able to come in as a freshman, not knowing Quinnipiac’s tendencies, I was able to show them something they haven’t seen before,” Koval said.
The Broncs won’t be back at Alumni Gym until Oct. 29. In the meantime, they will play four on the road, starting with two games next weekend. They will face Marist (15-3, 7-1 MAAC) on Oct. 18 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and then Siena (8-11, 6-2 MAAC) on Oct. 19 in Albany, N.Y.
Feliciano looks forward to the challenge of facing two top teams in a row and potentially leading the MAAC conference standings by the end of the weekend.
“We know we are going to play our two toughest opponents in conference and we are just excited for the opportunity,” Feliciano said. “We have a goal and a process to rebuild the program. Right now, it’s a three-way race between us, Marist and Siena at the top of the conference.”