By Kristie Kahl
Rider’s volleyball team was unable to come out on top when finally returning to their stomping ground after 11 games on the road, falling to two MAAC teams last weekend.
The Broncs (1-13, 0-5 MAAC) have dropped seven games in a row after losing to Manhattan 3-1, Siena 3-1, and Marist 3-0.
“With the new players and the new setters we are still going through some period of adjustment,” head coach Emily Ahlquist said to Rider Sports Information. “You are always going to have service and attack errors. It is a matter of when they come during the match. The ‘red zone’ for volleyball is the first team reaching 20 points and after that, you have to focus and bear down and force the other team to make errors. You need to avoid the mental errors.”
In the team’s first home match, Manhattan (2-9, 1-2 MAAC) overtook the Broncs 31-29, 30-22, and 30-27, with one Rider win, 30-27.
“It was frustrating today,” Ahlquist told Rider Sports Information. “I think with the conference starting earlier than it has, both teams are still trying to find their identity.”
Freshman Elyse Grassmuck had 23 assists and six service aces, while sophomore Amy Jeary compiled 20 digs, and sophomore Brittany Hayes added 10 kills. Freshmen Katelyn Thompson came through for the Broncs with 14 kills and 16 digs.
Rider took the lead in the first game 25-17, but eventually fell short. The Broncs then held onto their 26-20 lead to win their only game in the match. In the fourth game, Rider came back to tie the game, but Manhattan came out victorious in the end.
“Overall we fell out of our own game,” freshmen Katelyn Thompson said to Rider Sports Information. “We couldn’t pull through.”
In the team’s second home match, Siena (9-3, 4-0 MAAC) surpassed the Broncs 30-20, 30-17, and 30-24, with yet again only one Rider win of 30-26, throughout the match.
“Siena has some very good hitters,” freshman Kristy Love told Rider Sports Information. “We made some adjustments early in out blocking scheme that got them down a little. In the final three games, Siena was able to make adjustments to counter what we were doing.”
Thompson had 16 digs, eight kills, and three service aces with Jeary adding 13 digs, and sophomore Shannon Bures supplied 24 assists and two serve aces.
“As a team we really stepped it up early because playing against a first place club like Siena, we wanted to show who we are and how the match was going to go,” Love said to Rider Sports Information. “We weren’t worried about our record or their record, we just wanted to show that we were coming out ready to play.”
Almost half of the team is made up of freshmen, with seven of the 15 players in their first season.
“It is tough for all of the freshmen adjusting to the speed of the game,” said Ahlquist to Rider Sports Information. “The speed and facing teams that come ready to play on every point are the two biggest adjustments. With that said, our younger players are starting to find their way and are getting better as we play more.”
Although Rider is placed last in the MAAC division, the Broncs’ home games pushed them forward on their 2007 season schedule.
“Being on our home floor is helping us,” Ahlquist said to Rider Sports Information. “Having familiar surroundings and playing in front of fans that are supporting you contributed to the successes that we were able to have.”
The Broncs fell to Marist (6-11, 2-4 MAAC) in another MAAC match yesterday. Rider was swept 30-23, 31-29, and 30-27.
Rider will continue their schedule on the road in another MAAC match against Fairfield.