By Austin Ferguson
After victories in their first two matches of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) schedule, the Broncs were shut out in an out-of-conference match against American University and split two MAAC contests against Siena and Marist to end the week 1-2.
Rider traveled to the nation’s capital to take on American University on Sept. 25. The Broncs came into the match after they had won three straight games for the first time this season.
American stopped Rider in their tracks and won in consecutive sets, 25-15, 25-12 and 25-19. The loss was the last out-of-conference matchup for the Broncs this regular season.
Despite the sweep, freshman opposite hitter Morgan Romano continued her sensational rookie campaign with 12 kills against American. Sophomore setter Anilee Sher also had a powerful showing for Rider and recorded 19 assists and a kill in its losing effort.
The Broncs looked to bounce back from their loss at American with a home matchup against Siena on Sept. 28.
Rider dropped the first set by a close margin, 25-22. After the Broncs soundly took the second set, 25-15, both teams battled it out in the third set. Siena managed to hold on to a lead for a majority of the set and brought the score to set point multiple times. Rider continued to battle from behind and eventually took the set, 29-17.
The Broncs secured the fourth set, 25-18, and took down Siena, 3-1. The win brought Rider’s MAAC record to 3-0, its best conference start since 2015, when the Broncs won their first seven MAAC games.
Romano continued her dominance in the match with 24 kills over the four sets. Junior outside hitter Ali Ward complimented Romano and recorded 14 kills herself.
Senior libero Rachelle Runyon and freshman defensive specialist Pamela Loh anchored the Broncs defense with 16 and 12 digs respectively. Loh’s 12 digs were the most she had recorded in her career with Rider.
The Broncs’ early success with MAAC opponents appeared to be continuing against Marist on Sept. 29 when Rider took the first set, 25-20. Marist, however, answered with back-to-back set wins, 25-18 and 25-17, to take a 2-1 match lead.
With their backs against the wall, the Broncs took a 25-22 victory in the fourth set and forced a fifth and deciding set. Marist rallied in the fifth to take the set, 15-8, and escaped with a 3-2 match victory.
Rider did not go out quietly in its first conference loss of the season.
On offense, Romano and Ward registered double-digit kills. Romano led the Broncs with 24 kills and Ward finished close behind with 16 kills of her own.
Sher put up her best passing performance of the season and recorded 55 assists over Rider’s five sets.
On defense, three Broncs recorded 10 or more digs against Marist. Runyon had a team-high of 25 digs, while Loh and junior defensive specialist Danielle Blanco each registered 10 digs.
On Oct. 1, Romano was named MAAC Rookie of the Week for the fifth consecutive week. Romano is one MAAC Rookie of the Week award away from tying the conference record for most rookie honors in
Rider moves on to two MAAC road matchups in attempt to salvage their strong start to conference play.
The Broncs play Niagara on Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. Rider won its last two matchups.