By Tom Regan
Just when it seemed the volleyball team (12-8, 4-7 MAAC) might be down and out with a 1-6 conference record, it pumped out three wins in the last four matches to bring its record to 4-7 in the MAAC. The Broncs still sit seventh in the conference, and will need to reach the top four if they want to compete in the MAAC championship on Nov. 23-24 in Loudonville, N.Y.
After winning a match against first-place Manhattan on Oct. 20 (16-10, 9-3 MAAC) to snap a five-game losing streak, the Broncs were able to sweep Delaware State on Oct. 23 (2-18, 0-8 MEAC) thanks to the 11-kill contribution of senior setter Bridget Sheerin.
Sheerin, one of the few seniors on a relatively young team, knows that she must make her veteran presence known.
“An example I try to set is to always work hard and give 100%,” Sheerin said. “I think it’s important for everyone to leave everything they have on the court and have no regrets.”
However, following the short two-game winning streak, Rider was swept by Canisius (10-13, 8-4 MAAC) on Oct. 26. The Broncs lost 25-22, 25-21, and 25-22 in close sets.
Head Coach Christopher Feliciano thought his team performed well, but Canisius was just a step ahead.
“We played very well on Saturday in my opinion, but Canisius just outplayed us,” Feliciano said. “As a coach, you can deal with that. It’s part of the process.”
The Broncs turned the page following the loss with a 3-2 road win over Niagara (2-21, 1-11 MAAC) on Oct. 27. Freshman middle hitter Kaitlyn Griffin led the team with 17 kills, followed by Sheerin, who had 12 kills along with seven digs and seven assists.
Griffin was pleased with how the team started off strong and never looked back.
“When playing away, it’s always hard to come out with a win,” Griffin said. “We’ve been playing more aggressively in the beginning and not letting the other team gain any type of lead.”
Rider now goes on a five-game home stand with games against Iona (10-12, 8-4 MAAC) on Oct. 30, Quinnipiac (4-20, 2-9 MAAC) on Nov. 2, Fairfield (11-11, 9-3 MAAC) on Nov. 3, Manhattan (16-10, 9-3 MAAC) on Nov. 6, and St. Peter’s (4-23, 2-11) on Nov. 9. Iona, Fairfield and Manhattan all sit in the top five of the MAAC.
Feliciano wanted to make it clear that his team is doing exactly what he wanted it to do all season long: staying competitive.
“One of the goals of our team was that we wanted to play matches with significance at the end of the season,” Feliciano said. “We are doing that.”
The Broncs will need to step up against Iona, but Griffin is anxious to get on the court.
“Iona just beat Siena, who was No. 1 in conference, and that says a lot,” she said. “My team and I would like to play them with fire and focus.”