By Logan VanDine
The volleyball team opened its season after a lengthy wait with a pair of losses to the Fairfield Stags on March 7.
Rider lost its first match 3-1, being outscored 93-83 in four sets, taking one set by a score of 25 to18.
The Broncs took Fairfield to the brink in the second match, though they ultimately lost, 3-2. They were outscored 103-97 in a closer match than the one earlier that same afternoon.
Head Coach Jeff Rotondo was happy for his team to finally be back out playing for the first time in over a year, but did admit to having nerves about how the team would perform after such a long absence.
“I’m not going to lie, the players were a little nervous, I was a little nervous as well,” Rotondo said. “It’s been 471 days since we’ve done something like this and even though you’ve done it for a lot of years, when there’s that much of a gap, I was a little nervous on my end but the girls were just thrilled. We had some first set jitters in that first match, but they did settle in well against a good team that you know was pretty battle-tested, so I was really proud of the resilience we showed today and some up and down sets for sure.”
Rotondo was also asked if any certain players stood out to him in the matches.
“There were a few that came in and did some great things, Ali Ward played well all day, Anilee Sher, obviously, running the offense for nine sets today was phenomenal and Caprice Clarke who was coming in, and she really didn’t play that much last year because she tore her ACL, so she really had a big impact on the match offensively and with her blocks as well,” Rotondo said.
Rotondo was pleased that everyone was able to contribute in matches despite losing them both. He was happy with what he got out of his players, including the younger players.
Senior outside hitter Ali Ward had an impressive showing in both matches, leading the team in kills with 13 in the first match and 15 in the second, along with 50 total attacks in the second match, which also led the team.
Ward was asked how she felt to finally be back out there with her teammates.
“It was a great feeling to back on the court with the team I feel we put in so much training behind the scenes and it was really great to see it translate on the court today even though we didn’t come out with the win I think we were able to see how well we can trust each other on the court and how we can progress on the court,” said Ward.
Ward was also asked if there were any improvements that she and her team wanted to make after dropping both matches.
“At first I think the energy was low just because of the nerves,” Ward said. “We haven’t competed in so long and the second match, it was so much better and I think the communication and energy overall was just so much better.”
Ward also said, “Technique wise, the serve and pass could have been a little bit better. We could tell when they were in the lead with the serve and pass and when we weren’t and that really did dictate a lot of the game. When we were really doing well at that, we definitely had the lead, so, overall, this upcoming week we are going to definitely focus on a lot of that and also on defense and making sure we’re doing everything right on our side.”
She also talked about how much of an impact that Rotondo has had on the team.
“He’s been great, going into today the main priority was to just have fun and trust each other and just work together with any adversity we were going to face. And even throughout every single set, he was reminding us to have fun and not to be so nervous and remember all the training that we have done over the past year to prepare for this. I think, really, him putting his trust in us and us being able to trust each other definitely helps,” said Ward.
The Broncs will now prepare for their next matchup on March 14 when they host Marist for another doubleheader starting at noon.