By Carlos Toro
The volleyball team continues to top the MAAC standings after defeating both Niagara and Canisius on Oct. 17 and 18, respectively.
Not only did the Broncs (14-10, 9-1 MAAC) remain in first place, but it was a career day for sophomore defensive specialist Emma Aldaya, who had her 1,000th career dig in the win.
While Aldaya was celebrating this feat against Canisius, she wasn’t focusing on the milestone. She was happy reaching that career mark, but was preoccupied with getting the win.
“It was pretty awesome getting to that point in the short amount of time I’ve been here,” Aldaya said. “At the moment, I wasn’t even thinking about it. I wanted our team to win. To be able to do that in a really fun match is awesome.”
The game against Niagara (7-12, 4-5 MAAC) began with the Purple Eagles taking the first set 25-16. The first half of that set was a back-and-forth affair between the two teams until Niagara rode a 12-3 scoring run when it was tied at 13 points each.
The Broncs quickly got ahead in the following set, never trailing in either the second or third sets as Rider pulled ahead in those sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-20.
Niagara went ahead early on in the fourth set, but by attacking and serving errors, and a kill from Rider freshman right-side hitter Hailey Riede, the Broncs took the lead and forced the Purple Eagles to once again play catch up.
Riede led the team with 16 kills and a .500 attack percentage; meanwhile, Aldaya led the team with 17 digs.
The following day was the Broncs’ 10th conference game, and they had a chance to extend the best conference start in program history.
The match itself was hard-fought against Canisius (6-15, 4-5 MAAC) with an exciting finish.
Rider and Canisius were nearly deadlocked in the opening set, which featured seven ties, the most in the game. Riede and junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Griffin had the team’s last two kills to give the Broncs the 25-22 opening set win.
Canisius jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the following set after Rider had a few miscues and errors on the attacking side. Canisius rode that lead to a 25-21 second set victory.
“We knew, when we came into the match, we were in for a tough one,” sophomore right-side hitter Jennifer Borio, who led the team with 16 kills, said. “In the locker room, we said we have to control what we can control and be the aggressors.”
Just like the other two sets, the third set was another dead heat early on but a kill by Griffin jumpstarted a run that helped give Rider a 25-22 third set run.
The last set saw a similar turn of events, but when Rider was on the verge of closing the game with a win, Canisius came back down 24-20 to tie the set and extend it a little further.
Griffin sealed it with the game’s last two kills, finishing with 15 overall.
The Broncs go on the road to face off against Siena in a battle of the conference’s top two teams on Oct. 24. They then go against Marist the following day, a team Rider defeated earlier in the year.
Head Coach Christopher Feliciano said that they need to focus on not making any costly mistakes as the schedule continues to get tougher.
“That’s one of the things we really emphasize in our gym, is not make any bad errors,” Feliciano said. “We can deal with the aggressive errors and in the opening parts of sets one, three and four, we were really tight in our discipline and it afforded us a win.”