Rider University 3 LaSalle University 0
Broncs win Home Opener
LAWRENCEVILLE--The Rider University volleyball team won its home opener Wednesday, defeating LaSalle University 3-0 in Alumni Gym in front of a crowd of 533 on Code Cranberry night. The Broncs improved to 7-1 on the season.
“We’ve got to play a better brand of volleyball, our brand of volleyball,” said head coach Christopher Feliciano. “While we’re happy we won in front of the fans on Code Cranberry, this great event deserved a better performance than we put on tonight. We’ll take the win. It’s always better to win ugly than lose pretty. I felt the administration and the team’s peers deserved a better performance.”
Rider won 25-16, 25-21 and 25-13 in a match that featured only six ties and two lead changes.
“We played really at a really high level this past weekend,” Feliciano said about Rider’s 4-0 record, winning the Saint Francis Invitational. “La Salle ended up coming in and playing a slower type of volleyball and we struggled to adjust, combined with some nerves with this being the home opener. The team has to understand if they’re going to be good then they have to play in front of big crowds and adjust.”
For Rider, junior Jaclyn Webber (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) had 15 digs, 10 kills and hit .500 with junior Kayla Wong (Tustin,Calif./Arnold O. Beckman) and freshmen Ryan Ackermann (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) each adding six kills.
“Jaclyn is the heart and soul of our team when we need her to be,” Feliciano said. “She picks her moments when she needs to take over. And tonight with everybody’s nerves and the team not playing well, she decided to take over, and I’m glad she decided to do it. Someone needed to step up and if was going to be anybody it should be the emotional leader of our program.”
“To start off I think it made us really nervous to have that big of a crowd,” Webber said. “We went to set two and we were getting down and quiet on the floor. The crowd started to cheer and it really picked us up and we really appreciated them being there.”
Junior Ashlee Amatulli (Menifee, Calif./Temecula Valley) led the Broncs with 16 assists, adding seven digs and three service aces. Sophomore Brandie Hill (Portland, Ore./Lincoln) added 15 assists and freshman Alaina Piszczek (Sinking Spring, Pa/Berks Catholic) had 12 digs.
By topping the Explorers, the Broncs matched its best start since the 1984 season. In 1983, the Broncs started out 8-0.
“Different records and different accolades are great, but we’re just trying to play volleyball,” said Feliciano. “At the end of the day when I leave the gym and the season is over we’ll sit and reflect, but it’s imperative we have the mindset that those things are not important to us. We have a bigger focus in mind and it’s not to be 7-1.”
Rider and La Salle last met in Philadelphia on September 12, 2012 when the Explorers jumped ahead two sets to none and held on for a five-set win over the Broncs, 25-14,26-24,17-25,16-25,15-12, one of four, five-set losses Rider in 2012.
La Salle leads the all-time series 24-13, which began in 1980. Rider lost to La Salle 3-2 in Lawrenceville in 2011. The Explorers defeated Rider 3-0 in Philadelphia to open the 2010 season.
“I’ve been waiting to beat La Salle for a few years,” Webber said. “The win feels great. Unfortunately we didn’t play well as a team. Coach wasn’t happy; we didn’t practice well yesterday, so we’re going to have to come out and practice a lot better if we want to beat Bucknell this weekend.”
Rider will travel to Bucknell for the Bucknell Invitational September 13 and 14. The Broncs return home September 21 to host Niagara in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match.
“I know that Bucknell beat a strong Iona program, so we’ll watch that match and we’ll see what we need to do,” Feliciano said. “Everyone wants to talk about 1984 so we want to go 8-1.”