By Rocco Schirripa
The volleyball team has had its ups and downs this season, but it seems that things are beginning to improve as the Broncs defeated the first place team in the MAAC last weekend.
“The players are putting together what we are learning in practice and utilizing this information during the match,” said Head Coach Emily Ahlquist.
The Broncs then went on to play first-place Fairfield the next day with a flair for the dramatic, as they came from behind and upset the Stags with a final score of 3-1.
“Although we have struggled mentally these past couple of weeks, our emotional strength really shined through this Sunday,” said junior Kristy Love, who thinks that this is the start of something big for the volleyball team.
The Broncs lost the first set by 12 points, but then rallied and took the next three to clinch the win.
“Everyone stepped up and played the role they were asked to play with amazing energy and enthusiasm,” junior Elyse Grassmuck said.
Despite a previous six-game losing streak, the Broncs came out strong during a crucial conference match.
“We came back and fought hard, and that paid off,” said freshman Briana Wallace. “It was completely a team effort, everyone gave 100 percent.”
Junior Amanda Piccolini had 31 assists while Senior Amy Jeary added to her new record with 24 digs. Love had 16 kills and three blocks, and senior Brittany Hayes had 11 kills and 13.5 points.
“This is what we have been working toward: being aggressive and smart,” said Ahlquist.
As the team sports a 3-12 record overall and a 1-3 MAAC record, Rider went into the weekend bound for change.
“This weekend, we finally brought everything to the table, including positive energy and excitement, which we’ve been lacking for the past few weeks,” Love said.
The Broncs took Loyola on Saturday, losing the match 3-1.
“I thought our game against Loyola didn’t need to end up the way it did,” said Grassmuck. “We certainly could have beaten them in the fourth game and [we] failed to take advantage of some opportunities.”
Jeary had the main highlight of the night with her 22 digs, breaking the record for most individual digs, as she claimed 1,597 career digs. The previous record of 1,575 digs was set by Evette Hoeffner from 1998 to 2001.
For the Broncs, Piccolini also added 19 assists, 11 digs, three kills and two blocks against the Greyhounds.
Rider’s next match is against Iona in the Student Recreation Center on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 2 p.m. Following that, the Broncs take on St. Peter’s on the road for another conference match on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 2 p.m.
“This competition year is just beginning,” said Ahlquist. “I cannot wait to see where we go.”
By Rocco Schirripa