By Christopher Brooks
After an 8-1 start to its season, it seemed as if the volleyball team had already booked a trip to Loudonville, N.Y., for the MAAC championship. But, after lackluster performances in conference play, the Broncs missed out on the postseason following their final two matches of the season — Nov. 16 against Siena and Nov. 17 against Marist.
The Broncs opened the match against Siena (14-14, 13-5 MAAC) on the right foot by winning the first set, but they could not gain any momentum in the rest of the game. Tied at one set apiece, the Broncs led the Saints by five points, but after four unforced errors in a row, the momentum shifted. The Broncs went on to lose 25-21, 22-25, 16-25, 22-25.
Junior outside hitter Jaclyn Webber thought the Broncs played a strong first set.
“I think in the first set we were able to keep the errors down,” she said. “I think Siena underestimated us a bit.”
Even with the loss, senior setter Bridget Sheerin had 11 kills, while freshman outside hitter Ryan Ackermann and Webber both added 10 kills. Sophomore setter Brandie Hill had 18 assists, junior setter Ashlee Amatulli had 16 assists and nine digs, and freshman libero Aliana Piszczek added 19 digs and four assists.
Following the loss, the Broncs traveled to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to take on Co-MAAC champion Marist (20-8, 14-4 MAAC).
Rider (15-14, 6-12 MAAC) again opened the match strong by taking the first two sets, but Marist rallied, taking the remaining sets and the game, 25-21, 27-25, 20-25, 22-25, 4-15.
Webber was pleased with the team’s effort in the final game of the season.
“I think we gave our all against Marist,” she said. “We played together until the very end. Marist is a really good team.”
Amatulli had another strong effort with 27 assists and six digs. Freshman middle hitter Kaitlyn Griffin had 17 kills and five blocks, while Sheerin, in her final match as a Bronc, had 16 kills, five digs and three blocks.
Since the arrival of Head coach Christopher Feliciano, Rider improved six wins from 2011-12 and added another four wins this year. The Broncs will return 12 letter-winners for next season.
Hill believes next season will only bring more success.
“Next season can’t come soon enough,” she said. “We are returning 12 girls from our roster — all who play very important roles on the team. The combined talent from the old and new girls on this team is unbelievable and I think that next year will be our year to come out on top.”