By Christopher Masiello
The volleyball team continued its struggle, dropping both of its conference games this weekend against Marist (12-6, 6-2 MAAC) and Siena (9-10, 8-1 MAAC).
Head Coach Christopher Feliciano felt that his team did not play to its strengths.
“We just didn’t execute our system,” Feliciano said. “When we execute our system, we are a very good and fun team to watch.”
Sophomore setter Brandie Hill believed it was the team’s slow starts that troubled the Broncs this weekend.
“We played a little passively in the beginning and dug ourselves into little holes early in the games,” Hill said.
The team’s first game was at home against Marist on Oct. 12.
Rider (10-7, 2-5 MAAC) dropped the first two sets as Marist made only six errors. Rider was able to battle back and take the third set and almost came back to take the fourth after trailing 21-14, ultimately losing the set and the match, 25-23.
“We fought hard, but it was just a little too late,” Hill said. “Now that we know we can compete with the top teams in our conference, it really motivates us to keep working hard.”
Hill had 12 assists to go with 11 digs against the Red Foxes.
“I had a good game, but I couldn’t do anything without my teammates,” Hill said. “Everything we do well individually comes from our other teammates stepping up and doing their jobs.”
Junior setter Ashlee Amatulli had 22 assists and nine digs. With her performance, Amatulli moved to fifth on Rider’s all-time assist list with 1,796, passing graduate Erica West.
“Ashlee, without question, is one of our leaders,” Feliciano said. “She comes in everyday ready to work hard and ask questions.”
A day later, Rider was home once again against Siena (9-10, 8-1 MAAC), losing in straight sets.
The Saints out-attacked Rider and held a 54-24 kill advantage.
Amatulli put in another solid effort with 14 assists to go along with nine digs.
Another bright spot was the play of freshman defensive specialist Alaina Piszczek, who had a total of 33 digs with six assists, continuing an impressive rookie year.
“Alaina comes from one of the better programs and we were fortunate enough that she chose to play for us,” Feliciano said. “She has had some really great moments this year and it’s all about continuing her maturation process.”
With the losses this weekend, that makes it four in a row for Rider.
The Broncs have lost their last six meetings against the Gaels when they are away, including a straight-sets loss last season.
“You’re going to have streaks both good and bad,” Feliciano said. “You’re going to win a lot of games together and at times lose some together. We’re going to re-evaluate what happened this weekend with the coaching staff and go back to the fundamentals, which is the heart and soul of what we are used to doing as a team.”
Rider will continue play Oct. 19 on the road against Iona.