By Carlos Toro
The volleyball team entered its latest homestand with its record sitting at below .500. Now the Broncs leave Alumni Gym on a five-match win streak.
The Broncs (13-11, 7-5 MAAC) defeated Canisius on Oct. 22 and Niagara on Oct. 23, reaching their longest winning streak in more than a year.
Head Coach Christopher Feliciano was proud of the team’s performance against Niagara, where the Broncs won 3-0.
“I thought we did a sensational job at every aspect of the game,” Feliciano said. “Our passing, our serving, our offensive decisions and our floor defense were spectacular.”
Against Canisius (5-14, 3-7 MAAC), Rider opened the first set of the game with a 13-4 run. The Broncs kept the Golden Griffins’ offense in check, eventually winning 25-18.
Canisius then continued to play tough and stayed neck and neck with Rider in the second set. With the teams locked at 9-9, a kill from Canisius senior outside hitter Katlyn Tyler gave Canisius the lead and an eventual 25-20 victory.
The visiting Golden Griffins then carried the momentum of the set win and started the third frame with a 9-5 run. An attack error from Canisius and kills by sophomore outside hitter Savannah Logan and graduate middle-hitter Briana Guzman not only tied the game, but also turned the tides in Rider’s favor.
After both teams struggled to string points together, Rider pulled away and won the third set 25-19. The Broncs won the fourth and final set 25-21 to get the match win.
The Broncs then hosted Niagara (9-14, 7-4 MAAC) and started the match with complete control. The first set only had two ties, and Rider had the lead the rest of the way as it won the first set 25-21.
The Purple Eagles took advantage of several attack errors from the Broncs early in the second set and had an 8-4 lead. Logan then had a kill that jumpstarted a run for the Broncs in which they quickly took the lead and won the second set 25-19.
There was little opposition from Canisius in the third set as Rider got the first point in the set and did not surrender its lead for the remainder of the set. The Broncs won 25-18 and the match 3-0.
Rider junior setter Veronica Koval led the team with 33 assists. Sophomore right-side hitter Hailey Riede had 10 kills and Guzman led the Broncs with an attack percentage of .750 in the win against Niagara.
The win kept Rider fifth in the MAAC, but now it is two games behind Quinnipiac for second place in the conference.
Rider will now head north for the final road trip of the regular season. The Broncs will face off against Saint Peter’s (0-16, 0-11 MAAC) on Oct. 29 and then against Quinnipiac (17-8, 9-3 MAAC) on Oct. 30.
Feliciano stated that the team has been improving for the last few weeks and the results show for themselves.
“It’s really refreshing seeing our team continue to grow,” Feliciano said. “We’re in a good place and we’re following our process to win games.”
The first round of the MAAC Championships will start on Nov. 18 and will be played on the campus of Fairfield. Last season, Rider qualified for the postseason for the first time in 11 years. The team was eliminated in the first round by Manhattan.