Rider University 3, Howard University 0
LAWRENCEVILLE--For the first time since 2004, the Rider University volleyball has started a season with two straight wins, with the Broncs defeating Howard University 3-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Student Recreation Center.
The Broncs swept the Bison 25-4, 25-12, 25-10.
For Rider on Saturday, junior Bridget Sheerin (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) hit .312 with five kills and three block assists with senior Brittany Gajewski (Whitehouse Station/Hunterdon Central) adding 15 digs and two service aces.
"We've really been focused on doing the common things well," said head coach Christopher Feliciano. "Howard has an athletic team and we were really consistent with our blocking and our serve receive."
"The match went really well and we worked well as a team today," Sheerin said. "We were able to incorporate a lot of things that we worked on in practice into the match. I was able to get a few hits in and the blocking went really well. The middles did a nice job closing the gap."
"Bridget is our smartest player," Feliciano said. "You can give her a bad ball and she will find a way to get the ball down. I thought she did a phenomenal job this summer and came into the season in great physical condition and today you saw her setting the block really well. She should be proud of efforts as the coaching staff is proud of her. She is a great teammate and unsung floor leader."
Sophomore Kayla Wong (Tustin, Calif./Arnold O. Beckman) added 12 digs and five service aces with Rider compiling 14 service aces in the match.
"The serving was important," Feliciano said. "That is the first offensive attack. We moved the ball around and didn't allow their setters to get into any type of rhythm."
Leading 5-2 in the opening set, Wong served six straight points, including an ace as Rider opened up an 11-2 lead. The Bison cut the lead to 12-4 before junior Meghan Bartsch (Cranford) served the final 13 points of the set, recording three assists and three service aces.
Rider won 10 of the first 12 points to open the second set, with Wong and Gajewski serving. Howard cut Rider's lead to 20-12 before the Broncs went on a 5-0 run, including two services aces by Gajewski to clinch the set.
Wong and Gajewski again sparked the Broncs with solid serving as Rider won 17 of the first 19 points in the third and final set.
"The floor defense was solid and the offense is coming around," Feliciano added. "I was happy with the effort today."
Rider out-hit Howard .219 to -.094.
Rider has won four of five matches all-time against Howard with the teams last meeting on September 6, 2003 when the Broncs won 3-1 (30-23, 30-25, 29-31, 30-24).
The last time Rider opened a season 2-0, gas prices were $1.88 as the Broncs qualified and traveled to Loudonville, New York for the four-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference playoffs.
"This feels good," Sheerin said about the 2-0 start. "It is going to give us a lot of confidence and hopefully we can keep riding it and bring it into the matches tomorrow (Sunday)."
"We set a goal to surpass last year's 5-25 mark and we are doing the things we need to do to make that happen," Feliciano said. "We don't dwell on last year but we have taken valuable lessons from those experiences and continue to look to improve. Wins are big for our confidence."
Rider travels to the Lehigh Valley Sunday, taking on Lafayette at 1pm and Lehigh at 6pm.
The Broncs return home on Wednesday to take on Fairleigh Dickinson at 6pm in the Student Recreation Center on the Lawrenceville campus and Rider hosts Providence September 4 at 6pm in Alumni Gymnasium.
"We lost to FDU twice last year so we are looking to return the favor," said Feliciano.