By Brian Sommer
After the volleyball team got back on track, winning four matches in a row, it fell to Manhattan in three straight sets on Nov. 5, then managed to pull out a victory in Jersey City against Saint Peter’s on Nov. 8.
The Broncs (17-12, 10-5 MAAC) faced off against the third-place Manhattan Jaspers (19-11, 12-5 MAAC) in a rematch after Rider defeated Manhattan in five sets on Oct. 4. This match ended in a three-set sweep by the Jaspers, 25-21, 25-22, 25-20.
Senior outside hitter Jaclyn Webber believes the team experienced an off game in the loss.
“We didn’t play our game and Manhattan played well,” she said. “In this conference it’s a matter of who can have more good days. We had a bad one.”
For the Broncs, there were a few bright spots throughout the match. Senior setter Ashlee Amatulli piled up 16 assists and 13 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Kaitlyn Griffin added 11 kills and four blocks of her own.
Freshman defensive specialist Emma Aldaya had 13 digs to add to her strong rookie season despite beginning to feel a little bit of pressure.
“Once we get to the MAAC Championship, we have a clean slate,” Aldaya said. “Now the teams are all on an even playing field and the pressure will be on to perform like a championship team.”
This is now the third season in a row that Rider and Manhattan have faced off against one another, having ended the season series in a split.
Following the loss, the Broncs looked to redeem themselves against Saint Peter’s (6-19, 3-13 MAAC). The Peacocks started strong, going up two sets to one, but the Broncs rallied back to win the match 3-2.
Aldaya said it was the senior players who inspired the team to make the comeback.
“Leadership from the seniors is one of the biggest aspects that affects our matches,” Aldaya said. “When things get shaky during matches, the seniors step up and create a sense of stability.”
Webber and Amatulli led the way. Webber had 12 kills, six digs and three blocks, and Amatulli led all setters with 30 assists. Griffin continued to play well, adding 10 kills of her own along with four blocks.
The match ended with Rider on top, winning three of the five sets, 25-21, 22-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-6.
Rider travels to New Rochelle, N.Y., to battle Iona on Nov. 12, where the team will take on one of the top two teams in the MAAC. The Broncs will then host Siena and Marist on Nov. 15 and 16, respectively, to end the regular season.
Aldaya thinks the Broncs are in a prime position to improve on their fifth-place standing in the MAAC, and winning the next three games will be crucial.
“We have already surpassed our amount of wins we had last year so we want to continue reaching new goals,” said Aldaya. “I think that with focus and hard work we can win these tough matches.”