Rider University 3, Howard University 1
Saint Francis Brooklyn Terrier Invitational
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y.—The Rider University volleyball team improved to 4-1 on the season with a come from behind, four-set win over Howard University on Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Terrier Invitational, hosted by Saint Francis Brooklyn.
“We made things way to complicated,” said head coach Christopher Feliciano who has led Rider to its best start in almost 20 years. “While I am very happy to get the win, we have got to start to clean and tighten things up for conference play which opens up in two weeks.”
The Broncs won 21-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-21 in a match that featured 19 ties and 11 lead changes.
“In set one, we came out very flat,” Feliciano said. “We were down as many as 10 points, and we closed the gap and were down by three. We just couldn’t finish. I am very proud of not only the entire team, but there were certain individuals who stepped up which is significant in any win. It was a nice team win. We need to get better and we will continue to work hard to make that happen.”
For Rider, senior Bridget Sheerin (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) had 15 kills and hit .406 with freshman Kaitlyn Griffin (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory) and junior Jaclyn Webber (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) each adding 10 kills.
“Jaclyn played with a lot of heart,” Feliciano said.
Junior Ashlee Amatulli (Menifee, Calif./Temecula Valley) led the Broncs with 28 assists and added six digs and three service aces. Freshmen Ryan Ackermann (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) and Alaina Piszczek each had 12 digs in the match.
“Bridget and Ashlee did a phenomenal job today,” said Feliciano. “Ashlee was a facilitator and for Bridget, her stat line speaks for itself (15, 2 and 32, hitting .406.)”
Rider had 10 blocks in the match, led by four block assists from Griffin and three from freshman McKayla Huntley (Lake Stevens, Wash./Lake Stevens).
“I think blocking is a big part of our team,” Feliciano added about his squad that is averaging over seven blocks per match. “Every game that was close, we came up with an important block. When you look at the statistics, we had two solos and 16 block assists in a four set match, good for 10 total team blocks. Our blocking saved us today, because our offense was a little off.”
Rider and Howard met last season, also in the Saint Francis Brooklyn Invitational, with the Broncs sweeping the Bison 3-0. Rider has won five of six matches all-time against Howard with the teams last meeting (before last season) on September 6, 2003 when the Broncs won 3-1 (30-23, 30-25, 29-31, 30-24).
Rider last opened a season 4-1 during the 1994 campaign when the Broncs went 20-7 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning an NCAA Play-In match against Army.
The Broncs face the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the host Terriers of Saint Francis on Saturday.
“We know how to win,” Feliciano said. “I have to give credit to Howard for a more improved team. They were able to do a lot of things that we’re going to see in our conference which was good for us. We didn’t play well but we still won the match. The great thing I noticed about this team is that when one area was off, the other stuff was on, and the ‘on’ aspect was the blocking.”