Rider University 3, Niagara University 2
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Match
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.—Led by 17 kills and seven blocks from freshman Kaitlyn Griffin (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory) and 12 kills, seven digs and seven assists from senior Bridget Sheerin (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist), the Rider University volleyball team escaped from falling at Niagara University with the Broncs winning 3-2 on Sunday afternoon in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match.
“Kaitlyn and Bridget played well for us,” said head coach Christopher Feliciano. “They both played a great match and did a phenomenal job running the offense and giving Niagara different looks. Bridget was especially good with her blocking.”
Rider (13-9, 4-7 MAAC) won the match 25-19, 21-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-8, that took just under two hours to complete and featured 17 ties and nine lead changes.
“The match went well,” Sheerin said. “We had to fight back because Niagara kept battling. There were ups and downs and it feels really good to come out with the win.”
“It was a tough match,” said Feliciano. “We won the first set and were up 11-2 in the second set before Niagara came back and won it. We got complacent and that allowed Niagara to gain the momentum. I’m proud that we battled and were able to eventually win the match. Things are still a process.”
Freshman Alaina Piszczek (Sinking Spring, Pa./Berks Catholic) had 17 digs and three service aces for the Broncs with junior Jaclyn Webber (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) compiling 13 kills, seven digs and four blocks.
Freshman Ryan Ackermann (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) had 12 kills and eight digs for Rider.
Rider and Niagara met on September 21 in Lawrenceville with the Broncs winning 3-0 (27-25, 25-18, 25-22). Niagara swept Rider last season, winning both conference matches 3-1. Rider has won eight of 26 matches all-time against the Purple Eagles including the last two in a row.
“From where we have been, it is important to keep winning and gain tangible results,” Feliciano said. “It is important to know that we can compete against the programs in the MAAC and it is important to have the confidence that we can be successful and win on the road. This is our third conference road win and those are big time tangibles that we will use to continue to build the program.”
The Broncs last won at Niagara on October 18, 2008, also by a 3-2 score, after trailing two sets to one.
“Winning on the road in this conference is tough,” Feliciano said. “Winning at Niagara is even tougher. This is a long trip for us.”
“The whole team is excited that we got the road win today,” Sheerin added.
This is Rider’s fifth road win of the season after having five combined road wins all of 2011 and 2012. This season, Rider is also undefeated (5-0) in neutral site matches.
This is only the 12th time in 37 seasons that Rider has at least 13 wins in a volleyball season.
“The turnaround feels great,” Sheerin said. “Once the seniors graduate, we think we have laid the foundation for the program to keep winning and that personally feels good.”
“Bridget does things on the court with her play and leads by example,” Feliciano said about his senior captain. “It is rare for Bridget to not contribute in some way, shape or form when we win a match. She finds a way to get things done under pressure. She wants the ball in crunch time, thrives under pressure and really, is someone we have come to just rely on.”
Rider returns home to face Iona College in a MAAC match on Wednesday at 7 p.m., in Alumni Gymnasium, the first of five straight home matches for the Broncs.
“We need to stick to a simple game plan,” Feliciano said about the upcoming match against Iona. “When we lost to them 11 days ago (3-1), we didn’t really compete or execute our game plan from the outset of the match. They are a good team but we think we are a good team as well.”