By Terrell Munford
AFTER a shutout loss to the Marist Red Foxes on Sept. 20, Rider volleyball bounced back with a dominant showing against Saint Peter’s, 3-0 on Sept. 23 to get back in the win column and move to 2-2 in conference play.
Following a 5-5 tie in the first set, Marist went on a roaring 4-0 run to take an early lead. The Broncs, down 23-18, responded with a 4-0 run of their own that included kills from freshman outside hitter Paige Gienthbrock and sophomore outside hitter Kiannisha Santiago. However, the Broncs found themselves losing the first set.
Marist took total control of the match in the second set. With the Broncs up 12-11, the Red Foxes went on a 6-1 run.
Down 18-14, Rider went on a 4-1 run, with aces from freshman middle hitter Molly Rhode, and junior setter Ryley Frye to cut the lead to one, but the Broncs could not pull out the win in the end, losing the set 25-21.
“We dealt with some adversity, but opportunities were there to win sets one and two,” said Head Coach Jeff Rotondo. “Similar to Iona, closing and executing in tight situations is a concern we need to get corrected.”
The Broncs rebounded with a win against Saint Peters on Sept. 20, where they shut out the Peacocks 3-0. The Broncs improved to 3-9 on the season and 2-2 in conference play, meanwhile the Peacocks fell to 0-14 on the season.
In set one, leading 6-4, sophomore outside hitter Brynn Johnson tallied up a pair of kills during a 5-0 run that put the Broncs in control in the opening set.
The Broncs pulled away and cruised on to win the first set 25-16.
The Broncs carried the momentum from set one to set two. Rider went on a 6-1 run, which included a kill and a block from senior middle hitter Gabby Polynice. The Broncs closed the set out with nine unanswered points, including three service aces from junior setter Ryley Frye.
The Broncs didn’t waste any time in set three, as they came out firing on all cylinders with a 4-0 run including three aces from freshman outside hitter Rylah Robinson. The Peacocks retaliated, tying the set 8-8. Leading 15-14, Robinson and Rhode each had a pair of kills on a 7-1 run as the Broncs pulled away and won the set 25-16.
“I think we were able to kind of just spread the offense out a little bit, making it hard for them to pick who we were going to go to,” said Rotondo.
The win gives Rider some much-needed momentum, as they head into a crucial stretch of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference matches.
“Obviously, we’re looking for that one springboard,” said Rotondo. “We know that we’re right there, it’s just a matter of … finding ways to close sets like we should have against Iona which may [have] been a win for us.”
With the win, the Broncs inched closer to the .500 mark and are now 3-9 for on the season. Next, they take on the Siena Saints on Sept. 30 as part of a four-game home stand. The game begins at 4 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.