By Brian Zayicek
The volleyball team started off the season with a difficult road trip down to Harrisonburg, Virginia for the James Madison Tournament.
Rider’s first match was against Sacred Heart, where the team came out strong, winning the first set 25-21. They went to a fifth and deciding set where the Broncs snapped a 5-5 tie with six unanswered points. Senior right-side hitter Jennifer Borio dealt the finishing touches with one of her 16 total kills.
In the Bronc’s second match of the tournament, Gardner-Webb swept the Broncs 3-0. Collectively, Rider documented 60 kills to Sacred Heart’s 51.
Head Coach Christopher Feliciano seems to have found the problem in the Broncs’ play.
“You could see the inexperience of us playing together as a unit,” he said. “The team knows that no one is going to feel sorry for them, and we have to be really focused on coming together.”
The team then was paired with the host of the tournament, James Madison and was defeated 3-0. Junior right-side hitter Hailey Riede led the team with eight kills. The team recorded a total of 25 kills and 34 digs against the Dukes but didn’t come out victorious.
Rider has won every home opener for the last 6 years, and this season wasn’t going to be any different. Going in with something to prove, the Broncs took a 3-0 win over St. Francis.
At the beginning of the match, Rider trailed but rallied to come back and take the win. Freshman setter Danielle Blanco out of El Paso, Texas led the charge for the Broncs at the service line. Her series of dominant serves was just enough for Rider to come out on top. Blanco ended the day with two service aces along with two of her teammates, Veronica Koval and Emma Aldaya.
Rider took the win on a clean sweep with a combined 36 kills. Borio had a third of those kills, coming up big with a dangerous 12 kills against St. Francis. Borio has led the team in kills in two of the first four matches and has a team best of 36 kills on the year. On the defensive side of the ball, Rider had five blocks and 34 digs. Senior libero Emma Aldaya led the team with nine digs of her own.
Coming off a big turnaround win, Feliciano said, “We’re still ironing some things out with lineups and figuring out who works best together on the court.”
Unfortunately, after Wednesday’s game against St. Francis, the Broncs played games against Binghamton University and Fordham University and both came up in 3-1 losses.