By Brian Sommer
After beginning their season with three straight losses, the Broncs got back to their winning ways in non-conference games and have now won three out of its last five games.
Rider participated in the Rose Hill Classic at Fordham University on Sept. 5 and 6, where they placed second following two straight wins after losing the opener. The first game saw the Broncs lose in four sets to Northeastern 25-20, 25-17, 22-25, 25-22.
Following the opener against Northeastern, senior outside hitter Jaclyn Webber willed the Broncs to victory against Fordham with 20 digs and 18 kills. Rider won the match 25-17, 25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 15-12.
The Broncs then went on to sweep Fairleigh Dickinson 25-19, 29-27, 25-20 the following day to win their second match in a row. This match saw 37 ties and 16 lead changes, but the likes of Webber and freshman defensive specialist Emma Aldaya of the Broncs brought them home with a victory. Webber had her third double-double of the tournament and Aldaya added in 21 digs and six assists of her own.
Webber recognizes her young freshman teammate’s talents and what she brings to the team.
“[Aldaya] has been doing great,” Webber said. “It’s really exciting to see a freshman come in and get recognized right away.”
While it was a complete team effort in the Rose Hill Classic, both Webber and Aldaya earned all-tournament honors.
Aldaya believes that as long as she keeps her head in the game and plays it well, she’ll be fine and will continue to improve.
“As a freshman, I do feel some pressure stepping on the court before a match, but as long as I focus on the little things and stick to the system, I will perform great,” Aldaya said.
The Broncs then went on the road to La Salle and were outdone by the Explorers, 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 25-17. On a higher note, Aldaya received the MAAC Libero of the Week.
In a rematch in the final round of the Rose Hill Classic, the Broncs took on Fairleigh Dickinson and won in what was another close match with 26 ties and 13 lead changes, 25-16, 25-20, 22-25, 25-14. Webber continued to dominate like she has all season and received MAAC Offensive Player of the Week.
While all these games have been non-conference battles, Head Coach Christopher Feliciano believes they have their own importance.
“Non-conference is important because it gives you an opportunity to prepare for conference play,” Feliciano said. “This season my staff and I elected to make our schedule much more difficult in order to have the team prepared for conference play. Four out of our first five opponents were ranked 125 or higher in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) by the NCAA.”
Rider hosts Saint Peter’s to open conference play on Sept. 17, and Webber hopes the team starts on the right foot when it comes to conference battles.
“Starting off conference play on a positive note is really important and I think the whole team is excited to see what we can do.”