By Shanna O’Mara
The volleyball team had a weekend for the record books, defeating Marist for the first time in five years, as well as Siena for the first time in 11.
Coming off a rough game against Farleigh Dickinson last week, the Broncs put that upset behind them, moving to 4-0 in the MAAC.
A new attitude transferred into the weekend as the women took on Marist at home on Sept. 26. Sophomore setter Veronica Koval led the team again with 26 assists, helping the team beat its conference rival 25-18, 23-25, 25-14, 25-17.
“Going into the game, we all had the mindset that we could do something great,” Koval said. “The feeling of winning is always amazing, but to beat a team you have not beaten in five years felt more than just a win, it felt like an accomplishment.”
Senior setter Brandie Hill contributed 25 assists, strengthening the offense while the team relied on attacks from freshman right-side hitter Hailey Riede, junior middle-hitter Kaitlyn Griffin, junior outside hitter Ryan Ackermann and sophomore right-side hitter Jennifer Borio. Combined, these women totaled 47 kills.
“They’ve worked tremendously hard,” Head Coach Christopher Feliciano said. “They were diligent with paying attention to detail as we prepared. They executed each game plan very well.”
So far this season, the seniors have been leading the rookies toward improvement in play, resulting in victories.
“Brandie and [senior middle-hitter Nicole] Moorman have done a phenomenal job leading our program,” Feliciano said.
On Sept. 27, the Broncs hosted Siena, the only other undefeated team in conference play.
“After celebrating the win over Marist, we all knew we had a job to do the next day,” Koval said. “Siena was next. Coming off of a huge win just gave us momentum for them.”
The Saints fought hard for their untarnished record, evening the score 20 times throughout the game, but couldn’t hold up against the Broncs (9-9, 4-0 MAAC). The back-and-forth match saw Riede step up to lead the team with a .412 attack percentage, 15 kills, six blocks and four digs.
“We all knew that Siena would come out hard,” Koval said, “and we were prepared for it.”
Sophomore defensive specialist Emma Aldaya had 23 digs throughout the game. Moorman blocked Siena’s offense seven times to keep Rider ahead of the opponent.
In the fifth and deciding set, Rider trailed 13-11 but came back with four straight kills from Riede, Hill, Ackermann and Borio.
“Taking a win from the defending conference champs, and a team that we have not beaten in 11 years, just put the icing on the cake for this weekend,” Koval said. “It’s exciting to make a statement like this early in the season, but we have to keep working. I’m excited to see where we end up at the end of the season.”
On Sept. 23, despite beating Fairleigh Dickinson in the first two sets, 25-19 and 25-23, the volleyball team lost the best-of-five match.
The Broncs held a six-point lead in the second match, but FDU quickly gained momentum. This carried them through the final three sets to beat Rider.
Freshman outside hitter Catie Harding excelled with 16 kills and 12 digs. Aldaya added 29 digs while Koval contributed 27 of her own.
“We have to make sure we remain focused,” Koval said. “We have to keep working hard and getting better.”
The Broncs have won 12 of the last 15 matches at home and hope to continue with upcoming matches against Quinnipiac and Fairfield.