Rider University 3, Niagara University 0
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Match
LAWRENCEVILLE—The Rider University volleyball team won a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match against Niagara University, sweeping the Purple Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
The Broncs won 27-25, 25-18, 25-22.
For Rider (9-2, 1-0 MAAC), junior Jaclyn Webber (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) had 19 digs and nine kills with freshman Ryan Ackermann (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) adding 14 digs and 11 kills while hitting .375.
“Ryan has the uncanny ability to jump very high and strike the ball at its highest point,” head coach Christopher Feliciano said. “The setters did a phenomenal job getting her the ball where she could terminate the play and execute.”
Rider led 11-5 in the opening set before Niagara rallied for a 23-23 tie.
Trailing 24-23, Webber had two kills as Rider used two Purple Eagle errors to escape the set 27-25.
“I’m very hard on Jaclyn,” said Feliciano. “It is because of my high expectations. She struggled today but was really there when we needed her. She calmed everyone down when we trailed late in the first set and that calming influence isn’t something you see in a box score.”
“When I’m down, my team is there as much for me as I am there for them,” said Webber. “When mistakes are made, I just go up and give them an encouraging word and let them know how good they are and to forget the error and make the next play.”
“I was nervous in the beginning of the match and my teammates calmed me down,” said Ackermann about the match. “I think we played a smart match. We are looking to prove ourselves in this conference. The first set really set the tone for the rest of the match and we needed to get that win.”
“Our setters did a great job keeping the ball alive,” Feliciano said. “When things weren’t going right, we had to out hustle Niagara and that’s what we were able to do.”
“The first set win was tremendously important,” Webber said. “The match was tight and if you lose that kind of set in the beginning, it really swings the momentum.”
Freshman Alaina Piszczek (Sinking Spring, Pa./Berks Catholic) had 19 digs and five assists for Rider.
Niagara swept Rider last season, winning both conference matches 3-1. Rider has won seven of 25 matches all-time against the Purple Eagles with the last Bronc win in the series coming during the 2008 season before today.
“Our defense saved us today,” said Feliciano. “Our service receive was spotty and our offense was out of sync. Give Niagara credit for putting together a good scout and a nice game plan. They took away some things that we were trying to do.”
This is the second time in the past three seasons that Rider has opened conference play with a win.
Rider has won eight of its last nine matches.
Today’s win matches the best 11-game start in program history, tying the 1983 Rider squad that finished 27-10.
The Broncs host Canisius on Sunday in a MAAC match beginning at 1 p.m.
“We know Canisius is going to be a hard opponent,” said Feliciano. “They have a Coach of the Year caliber coach. We will need to do a good job of executing and making adjustments against what they are doing.”
Canisius won 3-0 at Saint Peter’s in a MAAC match Saturday afternoon.
“I expect it will be a tough match,” Ackermann added about playing Canisius. “But I think it will be a fun match as well. We just want to go out and earn the win and we are going to do our best.”