Rider gets back-to-back wins for first time in 2022

By Andrew Smolar

After a 2-6 start to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play, Rider volleyball finally got its feet under it, bouncing back with two crucial victories.

On Oct. 19, the Broncs began the week by conquering Iona 3-1, only to travel to Saint Peter’s and do the same on Oct. 22. 

We need to stay aggressive’

Volleyball achieved a victory over MAAC rival Iona on Oct. 19. Rider won the match in four sets, with no set being within five points.

This was a game that Head Coach Jeff Rotondo knew was important for his team. “The players knew how important this match was, especially coming off a tough 0-2 weekend,” Rotondo said. “The energy from start to finish was great.”

The Broncs came out strong in set one. Rider would race out to a 4-0 lead right away and lead by as many as six. Iona would cut the lead to two at 12-10 and eventually took the lead on the strength of a 7-2 run to make the score 18-17. The Broncs would take over from there, scoring the next seven points of the set and winning 25-20.

Rider came out strong again in the second set, taking an immediate 6-0 lead. That lead didn’t last long as Iona responded to the initial surge with four points of their own. The Gaels eventually took the lead on an 8-2 run in the middle of the set to make the score 17-14 and closed the set strong with four out of the last five points to take the second set 25-20.

The third set was tightly contested for a long time. The two teams went blow for blow for the first chunk of the set, with neither team leading by more than two points until close to the end. After trailing 15-13, Rider scored six unanswered points to open things up. After that, the Broncs pulled away and won the set 25-18.

The final set was similar to the third. The set started out tightly until Rider opened up a three point lead at 8-5. They would extend on that lead with another five unanswered points shortly after making the score 15-9. Despite letting Iona cut the deficit to one on the strength of a 6-1 run, the Broncs would seal the victory. They would close the set on an 8-3 run to win the set 25-19. 

Strong finishes in sets was something Rotondo preached in practice and was happy to see translate to games. “We try to put them in certain situations at practice where the score may be tight and they have to finish,” Rotondo said. “We need to stay aggressive late in sets, but not be reckless, and they did a good job of that last night.”

Making runs

Volleyball picked up a second consecutive conference victory on Oct. 22. Rider took out Saint Peter’s 3-1 with each victorious set being by at least five points.

The first set can be defined by one huge run. Rider started strong with the first three points of the set, but let the Peacocks rally to cut the deficit to one at 7-6. From there, the Broncs scored the next 11 points of the set to completely blow the game open. Their largest lead of the set was 13 as they won convincingly 25-13. 

Rotondo was pleased to see the run his team went on. “We talk a lot about going on runs, we want to try and get at least 3 runs, hopefully of 3 points or more,” Rotondo said. “If you can string runs within a set, it makes it hard to lose that set.”

The second set was a game of runs in which St. Peter’s had a bit more in the tank than Rider. The Broncs started the set strong, racing out to a 6-2 lead which was quickly erased by four straight points for the Peacocks. The Broncs would then grab the lead back with a four point run of their own to which St. Peter’s responded with five unanswered points to take a one point lead at 17-16. Despite having a late lead at 21-20, Rider was unable to seal the deal. The Peacocks outscored the Broncs 5-2 from that point on to take the set 25-23.

The third set was tightly contested for a while until Rider was able to put some strong runs together. After trailing 8-7, the Broncs would score six out of the next seven points to open up a four point lead. After grabbing the lead, they would maintain it on another 7-5 run that opened up the largest lead of the set at 20-14. They would win the set 25-20.

The final set started strong for Rider with the first four points all going to the Broncs. Rider would tack on another four unanswered points later on to open up their largest lead of the set at 12-6. The Peacocks would not go down easily, eventually cutting the lead to one at 21-20. Rider would dash any hope of a comeback by scoring the set’s final four points to win 25-20. 

This was a game that Rotondo knew his team needed to have as they entered crunch time of their season. 

“We are getting to that point in the season where climbing up the standings becomes more difficult as the amount of games remaining decreases,” Rotondo said. “The last two matches were certainly ones we needed to win.”

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