Women's College Volleyball
Rider picked Ninth
EDISON--The Rider University women's volleyball team was picked to finish ninth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason coaches' poll, it was announced Thursday.
Fairfield University, the 2011 MAAC runner-up, was picked to win the conference, followed by 2011 champion Niagara University.
In voting that was separated by only 13 points, Manhattan College was picked third, followed by Siena College, Canisius College and Marist College.
"I wasn't surprised by where we were picked," said second-year head coach Christopher Feliciano. "We'll use this at motivation but a preseason prediction is just that, a prediction. The positives are that we have 13 letterwinners back and that we had 17 matches go four or five sets last season. We are more competitive and now we have to start putting those matches in the win column."
Iona College was picked seventh, followed by Loyola University Maryland, Rider and Saint Peter's University.
"On any given day, anyone can win a conference match," Feliciano added. "That is demonstrated by how close the poll is, top to bottom. Every MAAC match is going to be a battle."
The returning veterans include sophomore Jaclyn Webber (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) who was eighth in the MAAC and 221st nationally averaging 3.16 kills per set and sophomore Ashlee Amatulli (Menifee, Calif./Temecula Valley) who was ninth in the MAAC and 115th nationally averaging 0.33 aces per set.
Rider opens competition on August 24 when the Broncs travel to Brooklyn Heights to take on St. Francis (N.Y.). The Broncs won 3-2 at St. Francis (NY) in the 2011 season opener.
The home opener is the next day, August 25 at 1pm against Howard. Due to the floor being resurfaced in Alumni Gym, that match and the August 29 (6pm) match against Fairleigh Dickinson will take place in the Student Recreation Center.
On August 26, the Broncs travel to Easton, Pennsylvania to take on the Leopards of Lafayette College before heading to Lehigh (Bethlehem, Pa.) to face the Mountain Hawks that evening.
The Alumni Gymnasium opener is Tuesday, September 4 at 6pm when the Broncs host Providence.
Rider competes at the Loyola Maryland tournament in Baltimore September 7-8, facing the host Greyhounds in a MAAC match on the 7th and playing Morgan State and Charleston Southern on the 8th in two non-conference matches.
Other non-conference matches include a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to face La Salle on September 12, a trip to Dover to face Delaware State on October 25 and a home match against Fordham on November 7.
Rider makes its annual trip to Western, New York on September 22-23 when the Broncs face three-time defending MAAC champion Niagara and perennial power Canisius.
The home conference schedule begins on September 29 when Rider hosts Fairfield in a 1pm match. The Stags advanced to the MAAC championship match in 2011 before losing to Niagara 3-1.
The Broncs also host MAAC matches against Iona on September 30, Manhattan (October 6), Saint Peter's (October 7), Loyola Maryland (October 20), Canisius (October 27), Niagara (October 28) and Siena on November 10.
On Sunday, November 11, the Broncs host Marist in the final contest of the regular season and Rider will honor its four graduating seniors, Meg Cook, Brittany Gajewski, Stephanie Nagy and Haley Wilson prior to the match.
The four-team MAAC Championship takes place at Fairfield November 17-18.
"If we pay attention to the small details, I think we will be more successful than last season," Feliciano said. "We have a nice returning group, with a year of experience and they now know what the expectations are."