By Terrell Munford and Glendale Eversley
IN its last regular season matches, Rider volleyball split two home games, defeating Quinnipiac on Nov. 11, 3-2 and falling to Fairfield on Senior Day, 3-0 on Nov. 12
‘Why not us, why not now?’
The Broncs hosted one of their best comeback performances this season at home against Quinnipiac on Nov. 11.
The Bobcats took the first two sets 25-20 and 25-12 before Rider came back fighting, winning three straight sets over Quinnipiac to win the overall match 3-2.
Head Coach Jeff Rotondo said, “The theme coming into the match was why not us? Why not now?”
The Broncs fell behind early in set one, and the Bobcats won the set without any stress due to Rider’s lack of cohesion.
After Rider went up 2-1 in set two, it was all Bobcats as they went on to score six straight points, bringing the score to 7-2. Later, leading 9-5, Quinnipiac scored another five consecutive points and did not look back, taking the set with ease.
The third set was close early on. While trailing 9-8, Rider finally found its footing and came out better, scoring five straight points including back-to-back kills by sophomore outside hitter Kiannisha Santiago. After Quinnipiac came back too close to within 18-17, Rider maintained its lead to win its first set of the match.
In the fourth set, the Broncs took the lead early and again maintained a small lead for the majority of the set. While leading 16-11, the Broncs pulled away with four straight points on sophomore libero Keegan O’Connor’s serve.
With the match tied at 2-2 in the fifth set, the Broncs took control of the match and momentum overall. Rider scored seven straight points, including three kills and a block by Santiago. Up 9-4, senior libero Molly Strah served for four points, including a back-row kill as the Broncs came back to complete the sweep.
“In the locker room at the half we talked things over and told each other how important this game is to us, and we all came together and got back onto the same page,” Strah said.
After the win, senior middle hitter Gabby Polynice gave her assessment of the team’s progress. “We were working as a team now and everything is clicking, which is a plus for us.” said Polynice.
Senior Night loss
On Nov. 12, Rider hosted Fairfield in its last game of the season. With a shutout loss to Fairfield 3-0, the Broncs closed out the regular season at 11-6 overall and 10-8 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference matches.
The Broncs came out determined as they stepped on the court for the last time, taking the first three points of the match on the serve from junior setter Ryley Frye. Down a score 7-6, Fairfield regained control with a charging 5-0 run.
Down 24-22, Rider swung back with three straight points to lead 25-24, but the Stags fought back with three straight points to take the set.
The third set was no different, resulting in 12 ties. Down early 6-5, Rider went on a 4-0 run including a pair of aces by freshman libero Simone Langford. Down 11-9, Fairfield responded again with another 6-0 run.
The Broncs still had a little bit of fight in them. Falling behind at 17-4, O’Connor came with an ace to cap off a 4-0 run, leading to a one-point advantage at 18-17. Tied 23-23, the Stags took the two final points of the match and got the win. The Broncs will head to Fairfield to play Niagara in the MAAC tournament on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.