By David F. Pendrys
FAIRFIELD, CT- While the Fairfield Stags volleyball program has had steady success in recent memory, the Quinnipiac Bobcats found themselves having to rebuild after their program was cut, and then saved by a lawsuit. The effect this instability had put QU on the losing side of many matches over the years, but in reaching the MAAC final, the program has shown itself to be repaired and competitive. The Stags were the ultimate victors by sweeping their rivals to the east in three straight sets but QU clearly has a lot of be pleased with as the program has demonstrated its strength.
Megan Theiller and Skyler Day led the Stags attack each notching 18 kills on the day. Megan O’Sullivan had 7 and the rest of the teams 50 were spread out over other players. Mayda Garcia had the team’s only solo block and shared 2. O’Sullivan shared 3 and Day and Manuela Nicolini each shared 2.
The libero, Mallory Bechtold, had 15 digs to lead the team as would be expected. Day, O’Sullivan, Bechtold, and Taylor Rudeen all had service aces as well.
For Quinnipiac, Kat Miller’s 11 kills and Allison Leigh’s 10 paced the Bobcats, with Elizabeth Kloos, Jenn Coffey, an Natalie Alechko picking up the rest of the team’s 33. Coffey had a solo block and shared another. Leigh shared 7 blocks and Miller shared 6. Alechko and Kloos shared 1 each.
Alechko had 11 digs, Cody Michaels, and Alejandra Rodriguez, the libero, had 9 each.
Fairfield had pulled out to an early advantage in set one pulling out to a 10-2 lead. QU burned through both of their time outs getting to this point. O’Sullivan had proven to be especially dangerous scoring off kills, a block, and an ace. Theiler and Day were also getting in their points. The lead would prove to be insurmountable as QU went on brief runs but could not close the gap enough. Miller had a few kills in the middle of the set but Fairfield was able to keep the lead manageable and even as the teams traded points it was ultimate too late.
Late in the game, Leigh had two straight kills, and shared a block with Miller, but the teams then traded points. O’Sullivan proceed to spike it off the blockers for another point, Kaitlyn Fisher and Garcia shared a block, a QU error, and then a blast from Theiller really shut the door as the Stags soon reached 25-18.
Set 2 went worse for the Bobcats as Fairfield powered to an 8-1 lead thanks to Theiller, Day, and O’Sullivan primarily. Rudeen had come up with a great dive to keep the ball in play and eventually Day sent a spike over to keep the momentum. Nicolini also got to a ball and kept it alive leading to an eventual point. QU’s Leigh eventually came up with a block which ended the big run, and the teams traded points before three Fairfield errors brought the score to 9-6. The Stags and Bobcats would trade points again until Theiller began a run with her tap over the defensive line. Two Bobcats errors followed, a Theiller kill, Bechtold service ace, and a Fisher cross court kill put the difference at 18-8. Each side picked up a few points but QU’s only run netted them 3 unanswered points to a 22-14 score. Fairfield proceeded to close it out as Day had 2 late kills and a QU error ended the set.
Set 3 was a bit more even though Fairfield eventually snatched an advantage starting with a Garcia block, a QU error, an ace from Day, another QU error, a whap over from Day, followed from a big shot to the corner by Day. This put the score at 13-6 but Miller and Kloos came up with a block to end the overall run. QU did manage to get within five thanks in part to Leigh and Coffey and they clawed away at the lead eventually Leigh walloped the ball down and Miller added a kill right after to put the contest at 18-16. Theiler regained the initiative for the Stags and Garcia followed her with another kill, followed by a QU error, and a blast from Theiller to the back corner of the zone to extend the lead to 16-22.
QU by no means gave up and went on the attack again getting 5 point to Fairfield’s 2 and the score ended up a 21-24 as Coffey blocked the ball. Another point came their way, and Leigh blocked yet another attack slicing the lead to 24-23 in favor of Fairfield. Theiller ended it with a spike though for a 25-23 set win and a 3-0 match win.
Fairfield as the MAAC Champions will get an NCAA berth for their efforts. Quinnipiac finishes the season with a solid 21-13 record.