By Luke Lombardi
Coming into a tournament at the University of Rhode Island on Sept. 10 and 11 without a win, the volleyball team concluded non-conference play with two wins in three games, bringing its record to 2-7.
Rider started the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Rhode Island. Sophomore outside hitter Tori Schrader led the team in kills with 16 and senior setter Anilee Sher paced the team with 40 assists.
“I think Friday felt like a continuation of what we’ve been doing; there was a lot of hesitation on our end, and that’s not to say we weren’t performing,” Sher said. “Like I said, it’s hard to win, and it’s something you have to learn to do, so Friday was a lot of moments of good and a lot of moments of hesitation. We just didn’t have enough momentum to carry us through the match, but Saturday there was a change in energy and mindfulness. We played like we were up in score the entire time, and because of that, the confidence and togetherness helped us work together really well.”
Even though they had not won a game yet, spirits were high.
“The pre-season tournaments are designed to be hard and challenge us and make us ready for this upcoming season,” Junior opposite hitter Morgan Romano said. “Knowing that we’re playing teams in bigger conferences is just great practice for us to get us ready.”
The Broncs started Sept. 11 with a 3-0 victory over Merrimack and followed it up with a 3-0 victory over Hartford. Romano had 18 kills in the match against Merrimack, leading the team, while Sher, once again, led the team in assists with 38.
Schrader took back the lead for the team in kills against Hartford with 12. Sher took the hat trick when it came to being the leading assist-getter as she compiled another 34 in the final match.
Schrader was the only player to be in the top three for kills in each match.
“Tori’s just a great kid. She works really hard, and she’s a joy to be around,” Head Coach Jeff Rotundo said proudly “Her teammates love her, so to see her have the success she had this weekend is just a credit to her because she does work really hard for it.”
Sher hit a huge milestone on Sept. 11 as she recorded her 3,000th career assist. When asked about the achievement, Sher said, “I was excited and grateful to have had teammates who helped me reach that milestone, but I’m always looking forward, and I’m reaching for 4,000.”
At the tournament’s conclusion, Rotondo had plenty to say of Rider’s performance.
Rotondo, the defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Coach of the Year, said “When we do serve pass, we serve pass well. We’re going to be a difficult team. We obviously have to put pressure on teams from the serve line, and hopefully, get them out of system, which makes it a little bit of an easier job on our blocking defense. Offensively, we have to stay aggressive.”
The conclusion of the pre-season tournaments means conference play has arrived. Rider plays Fairfield on Sept. 18 and Quinnipiac on Sept. 19.