By Jake Serrano and Carolo Pascale
Over the weekend, the Rider Broncs volleyball team was defeated in two conference matches. The Broncs lost in three sets to the Niagara Purple Eagles on Oct. 8 and then followed by dropping to the Canisius Golden Griffins 3-1 on Oct. 9, giving the Broncs their third and fourth straight losses.
Falling in Niagara
Traveling nearly seven hours, the Broncs tried to muster momentum, but were unable to hold it against Niagara, losing in three straight sets.
“Our standards and expectations have not changed, but we have just been unlucky with being healthy for the past three weeks,” Head Coach Jeffery Rotondo said. “We’ve had 12 players out the past three weeks, so we have been juggling lineups. However, we should never accept losing matches, regardless of our lineup or personnel.”
After a fast, back and forth start in the first set, the Broncs held a 13-9 lead off of five consecutive points, but just as Rider had taken the lead, the Purple Eagles roared back with a 7-1 point run to earn back the lead.
The first set stayed close, but Niagara escaped the set with a 25-21 victory via a three-point run.
The second set was dominated by Niagara. The Purple Eagles continued to pile on the points and closed out the second with an impressive 8-0 run, winning the second set 25-13.
The Broncs were in a dogfight in the third set. It was much closer with Rider rattling off two five-point runs and Niagara posting one of their own, but once again Rider was outlasted, losing off of back-to-back points 28-26.
Even with the loss, the Broncs were led by freshman outside hitter Kianny Santiago with 14 digs, sophomore setter Sydney Bond with 15 assists and sophomore hitter Christina Blount with six kills.
‘We are nowhere near that right now’
The second game of Rider’s two game trip to Buffalo was against the Canisius Golden Griffins on Oct. 9, and while the Broncs played better, their effort was only good enough to win one set as they fell 3-1 against the Griffins.
“We have these moments of good play, just sustaining that level of play and being consistent have been difficult. Part of it is youth, I think part of it is frustration and the mixed-up lineups playing next to someone different,” Rotondo said. “Overall, we need to improve our focus throughout a match and remain coachable throughout practices and games. As a staff, I think we need to improve our communication within games, helping the athletes to be in a good space to compete freely.”
Canisius was able to slowly gain the lead and pull away from Rider in the first set. While already having a 9-8 lead, the Griffins went on a 6-2 run that pushed their lead to five points. Canisius would also go on a three point run later in the match, which set them up to win the first set 25-18.
The second set, just like the previous game against Niagara, was controlled by the Griffins. They got out to a quick 4-0 start, and went on another four point run once they were up 15-10. Down by eight, the Broncs tried to stage a comeback with four points off the serve of Santiago, but Canisius was able to hold on and win the set 25-20.
One positive note about the Broncs’ long weekend came when they made a comeback in the third set to win their first their only set of the weekend.
After the Broncs started with a 3-0 lead, Canisius went on a torrid 9-3 run to take the upper hand. After some back and forth, Canisius gained the advantage again when they earned a double-match point with a 24-22 score. However, this time the Broncs showed resilience, capping off the set with four consecutive points with back-to-back kills by senior opposite Morgan Romano.
The fourth and final set of the match was all Canisius again, dominating the Broncs and securing the win 25-21.
“Look, we were picked second, and we are nowhere near that right now,” said Rotondo. “I am sure there is some frustration on the players side, but we need to stop feeding into our emotions and just put our heads down and go to work for the last 5 weeks.”
The Broncs are now 4-13 on the season, and will look to snap their four-game losing streak against the Manhattan Jaspers, who they beat 3-1 earlier in the season. The match will take place back home at Alumni Gym on Oct. 12.