Volleyball

Volleyball wins NEC Sportsmanship Award

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Web-Editor

The Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team received proof that it is respected around the Northeast Conference when it was awarded the NEC Fall Team Sportsmanship Award on Jan. 18.  The award was initiated in 2008 and serves as recognition for the teams that represent good sportsmanship as voted by their peers.

“It’s a really great feeling.  I’m still grinning.  Every time I think about it, I start grinning,” head coach Robin Lamott Sparks said.

Even though the team posted a record of 4-25 overall and 3-13 in NEC play, this award in particular exemplifies that being an athlete means more than strictly what happens on the court.

“I hope that this award shows that we work hard no matter if we win or lose and that we always have a good attitude,” said senior Kelby Carey (Surfside Colony, Calif.) of the award.

The team’s positive outlook regardless of record or score was something that defined its season, not just in the acknowledgment received from the conference, but from the inside as well.

“Our hard work and what I call ‘relentless forward motion’ is what really shows when we’re out on the court,” said junior Taylor Payne (Warwick, N.Y.).  “I think this year we really had some moments of glory where the score of the game didn’t matter to us and we won simply because we trusted each other to do our jobs and win.”

As the team is graduating three senior veterans, Carey, Kayla Lawler (Louisville, Ky.) and Brittany Garret (Ossining, N.Y.), it must prepare to maintain this positive reputation that it has established for itself.

“When you’re doing something well you want to pass that on to the next generation,” Lamott Sparks said.

In spite of the positive feedback from around the conference and the Quinnipiac community, the Bobcats know that there is always room to be better when it comes down respectability and quality sportsmanship.

“We can always be better people.  I think everybody would say that about themselves.  We’re just trying to continue try to improve ourselves and be better at what we do,” Lamott Sparks said.  “Being sportsmanlike when you want to win is important.  I think learning how to fight well is something that is a skill.  When we’re fighting to win a match, but doing it appropriately, it’s rewarding.”

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Carey leaves court with 1,000 digs and lasting impression

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Web Editor

When the Quinnipiac volleyball team hit the road for its last two games of the season against Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa) on Nov. 12 and 13, there was more on the line than a couple end-of-the-season NEC games.  At the beginning of the road trip, senior Kelby Carey (Surfside Colony, Calif.) was only two digs away from reaching a career milestone of 1,000.  With her five digs in the game against Robert Morris, Carey surpassed this goal, ending her college volleyball career with a whopping total of 1,003 digs.

Despite the hype that comes along with any individual achievement, Carey managed to keep her mind on the game at hand, not even realizing her record until the final point was recorded.

“After the game, a couple of my teammates congratulated me, and I felt such a sense of accomplishment,” said Carey.  “I didn’t realize I had reached a 1,000 until after the game because I was so focused.”

Carey finished this season fourth on the team in digs, scoring 165 in 29 matches played, averaging 1.74 digs per set.  With that, coming into her final season, she was well aware that such a feat was within reach.

“At the beginning of the season I made it one of my goals to reach 1,000 because I knew it was definitely possible,” said Carey.

In spite of this statistical goal in the back of her mind, it is clear that this season has been more than just boosting numbers.  Carey is well aware of the relationships that volleyball has provided her with, particularly the ones with her teammates and head coach Robin Lamott Sparks.  Sparks has been at the helm every year that Carey has been at Quinnipiac, having just finished her fifth season coaching the Bobcats.

“These past four years have meant a great deal to me.  It has been a pleasure to work with both Robin and Ron [Sparks], and it seems like just yesterday I was just a freshman,” said Carey.  “I am going to miss all of my teammates immensely because they are like a second family to me.”

Even though it’ll be hard to leave after a successful run, Carey could not have done it on a better note.

“It was a great way to end the season knowing that I had accomplished one of my goals for this year,” she said.  “As a senior, you want to be remembered for all of your hard work, and I feel like I have achieved that.”

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Volleyball drops third straight NEC match-up

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Web Editor

The last time that the Quinnipiac volleyball team faced off against Sacred Heart on Oct. 9, it lost handedly, falling in three straight sets (25-11, 25-10, 25-9).  Things did not change much when the Bobcats were defeated by the Pioneers on Friday, again in three straight sets (25-16, 25-14, 25-13).  The loss makes for the third consecutive to a Northeast Conference opponent, with losses coming against Bryant and Central Connecticut on Oct. 29 and 30.  With the win, the Pioneers bump the Bobcats to an NEC record of 3-10 and an overall record of 4-22.

The first set for the Bobcats was slow coming out of the gate.  Sacred Heart showed offensive dominance with resilient blocks and 15 kills placed in the holes of the Quinnipiac court.

“We weren’t closing up our block real well.  It’s hard to set up your defense when there’s a hole in the block,” Sparks said.

After the first set, however, the defense “did a better job of closing the block,” said Sparks.

Despite defensive troubles early on, sophomore Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) managed a team-high of 17 digs.

“Tracy played great,” Sparks said.  “I think they adjusted to try to hit way from Tracy in that third game.”

Sophomore Dianis Mercado led Sacred Heart with nine kills of her own.   Sophomore Olivia Grattan (Pittsburg, Pa) and senior Kelby Carey (Surfside, Calif.) led the team with five kills each on the day, but attacking errors proved to be costly for the Bobcats. They racked up 26 through the three sets.

“That’s a really, really good team, and we knew that going into it,” said head coach Robin Sparks.  “I would have liked to see us cut down on our unforced errors, but I think we were just on our heels from the start.  They really took it to us the first time we played them.  This time I think we played a little bit better, but still too many unforced errors.”

In spite of the score, the Bobcats never let mistakes get to them, keeping a positive focus to drive them through.

“We just have to get ready to move on.  That was our mode today,” Sparks said.  “After every play, just move on.  They’re going to hit some balls that are going to be unbelievable, but we just have to do the same back.”

Moving forward towards the end of the regular season, Quinnipiac has taken as many lessons as it can from this game.

“I think we did some things okay.  The big thing was just keeping the ball alive; quit trying to be too perfect,” Sparks said.  “Sacred Heart makes very few unforced errors, and that’s why they’ve been so successful this year.  They beat a lot of big teams this year because they don’t make many mistakes.  We have to learn to cut down those mistakes ourselves.”

The Bobcats are back in action against Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday at 2 p.m. for the team’s Senior Day.

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Bobcats drop second straight NEC contest

By Michael Desjardins, QBSN Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac women’s volleyball team lost 3-2 to Central Connecticut State in an NEC match-up Sunday.  It was the Bobcats’ second straight loss and their fourth in five games.

The first set was competitive, as the two teams traded leads seven times early on before the Blue Devils broke out, scoring four points in a row. However, the Bobcats mounted a comeback late in the set and tied the game, 23-23. The set was forced into extra points, but Quinnipiac took the set 27-25.

In the second set, Quinnipiac dominated early, scoring the first seven of eight points.  At one point, the team led by seven points. However, Central Connecticut attempted a late comeback of its own, scoring five straight to tie the game at 24-24.  Mirroring the first set, the Bobcats again managed to hold on, winning 27-25.

Despite the strong start, the Bobcats lost steam by the third set. They fell behind very early and couldn’t catch up. At one point, the Blue Devils scored 10 straight points to lead the set, 20-7. The Bobcats would try another comeback, scoring the next seven of 10 points. In the end though, the Blue Devils would win the third set 25-17.

“Central Connecticut is a good team,” Quinnipiac head coach Robin Sparks said.  “You knew that had a lot of maturity, far more maturity than we have on the floor. We just started over-thinking and got away from just playing. When they over-think it, that’s when they get themselves in trouble.”

In the fourth set, it was more of the same. Quinnipiac fell early and failed to regain its footing. It began competitively, despite the Bobcats never once taking the lead. At the end of the set, however, the Blue Devils recorded the final eight of 11 points to win the set, 25-15.

In the final set, the Blue Devils broke out early, recording the first four points. The Bobcats remained persistent, scoring the next five of eight points. In the end, though, Central Connecticut came out on top, 15-12.

Junior Taylor Payne (Warwick, N.Y.) and sophomore Olivia Grattan (Pittsburgh, Pa) led the team in kills with 11 apiece. Payne also led the team in blocks with three. Sophomore Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, New Jersey) had a game-high 30 digs.

With the loss, Quinnipiac falls to 3-9 in NEC games, and 4-21 overall. Central Connecticut is now 16-8 and 7-4 in conference match-ups.

Quinnipiac plays its final two home games of the regular season on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. against Sacred Heart and Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. against Fairleigh Dickinson.

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Bobcats fall to Bryant, 3-0 

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac volleyball team lost to Bryant University in three straight sets (20-25, 14-25, 15-25) for the second time this season.  The loss, coming on the team’s annual Dig Pink weekend, brings the Bobcats’ Northeast Conference record to 3-8 and 4-20 overall.

Despite the score, the Bobcats had a tremendous effort, particularly in the first and third sets.  Freshmen Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C.) had five kills in the first set alone, racking up seven on the day, and junior Taylor Payne (Warwick, N.Y.) had five kills of her own, three coming in the first set.  The Bobcats also had 22 assists in the game, 21 of them coming from senior Kayla Lawler (Louisville, Ky).

“When we let it flow, it was great, but we just pressed too hard,” head coach Robin Sparks said.  “I think they just tried too hard.  When you try to press too hard, you tense up, and you can’t play tense.  It’s such a mental game.  You have to be able to keep your mind focused on what’s going to happen next.”

While the offense posed a bit of a problem for the Bobcats after their 20-point first game, the defense stayed very much intact.  Sophomore Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) had 20 digs, and senior Kelby Carey (Surfside, Calif.) had 12 of her own, bringing her 13 digs away from the 1,000 mark with 987.

“Defensively, we played well.  We stopped their outsides which was a big focus for us because we knew that [Maria] Scocca was going to get her kills, so you have to limit your kills from everybody else,” Sparks said.  “We just couldn’t take care of our own offense.  I think that’s what hurt.”

Scocca did indeed get her kills, nailing 13 in the three-set game, the team-high in kills.

Sparks, while praising the defensive performance, did note that younger players were trying too hard to nail those big, rally-ending kills and inevitably, not executing.

“You can’t do that at Division I.  You can get away with that in high school, but not against a big block like that.  Those are lessons that come with maturity,” Sparks said.

Looking forward to their next game against Central Connecticut, the Bobcats are aware of what needs to be done and what they are capable of.

“If we can just fix those miscues and those unforced errors, we’ll be alright,” Sparks said.  “Hopefully, we’ll just come out and play like we can.”

Quinnipiac faces Central Connecticut tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Burt Kahn Court.

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Bobcats lose to Blackbirds, 3-0

By Michael Desjardins, QBSN Staff Writer

The Quinnipiac Bobcats women’s volleyball team faced the Long Island Blackbirds in an NEC showdown on Sunday. However, they were shutout 3-0.

In the first set, Quinnipiac fell to an 11-4 run, and couldn’t make up the deficit, and the Blackbirds would end up winning 25-15.

The second set began a lot more competitively. At one early point in the set, the Bobcats were leading. However, halfway through the game, Long Island earned seven straight points. The Bobcats did mount a comeback, by winning the next seven of 11 points, but the Blackbirds would go on to win 25-21.

By the third set, however, the Bobcats were running on fumes. They allowed the Blackbirds to earn the first six straight points and lost the set, 25-13.

“By the third set, we really struggled with defending the site, and obviously we got some tape to look at and figure out how to defend that for the next time we play,” said coach Robin Sparks.

With the loss, Quinnipiac falls to 2-15 (1-3) for the season, while Long Island improves to 9-10 (4-1).

“We got to figure out what we’re doing in practice this week, get a good week of solid defense in,” said Sparks. “We got to review our defenses again since we got a little confused at times on what we were doing.”

The Bobcats are on the road this weekend, as they play Fairleigh Dickinson (9-6) on Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sacred Heart (12-5) on Sunday, Oct. 9.

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Bobcats win NEC home opener, 3-2

By: Giovanni Mio, QBSN Staff Writer

October 1, 2011

The Quinnipiac Bobcats won a very close game against St. Francis (N.Y.) 3-2 at Burt Kahn Court in Hamden in their NEC home opener.

The Bobcats played slow out of the gates.  After a few kills from Terriers junior outside hitter Marina Georgieva and a couple of Quinnipiac net violations, the Bobcats found themselves down 4-0 to start the game.  They scored their first point off of a St. Francis unforced error.  After back and forth action, Quinnipiac took a 14-13 lead off of a kill by junior Taylor Payne (Warwick, N.Y.).  The Bobcats then went on an 11-2 run to end the first set, winning 25-15.  This was the first time Quinnipiac won their first set of a game since their game against La Salle on Sep. 9.

The second set was back and forth in the beginning.  There were four lead changes to start off the set. This last lead change would be in favor of Quinnipiac, and they wouldn’t look back.  During a 14-14 tie, Bobcats sophomore Bonnie Conklin (Plano, Texas) got a kill to give Quinnipiac the lead.  The Bobcats ended the second set on another 11-2 run to take it by a score of 25-16.

“We were playing pretty steady; we were keeping balls in play. We made them make the mistake,” said senior Kelby Carey (Surfside Colony, Calif.).

“I think we were playing with freedom the first two sets,” said Quinnipiac head coach Robin Sparks.  “We were relaxed, we were playing well, we were doing what we talked about, and that was what really was important.”

The third set started off the same way it did in the second, back and forth scoring from both teams. The Bobcats had a shot to win in straight sets, would have been the first sweep since Sep. 18, 2010 against Lafayette. Unforced errors played a huge role in the downfall of the Bobcats in the set. They committed three straight to give the Terriers the lead and momentum at 17-11.  The St. Francis duo of Georgieva and junior Naomi Flinders helped the Terriers win the third set 25-18.

The fourth set was a battle to the end.  At one point, the Bobcats found themselves losing to St. Francis 20-13.  After Quinnipiac over-hit a kill, making it 22-17, the Bobcats scored five straight to tie the game.

After a Georgieva fault tied the game at 27, the Bobcats caused two straight unforced errors, costing them the set, 29-27.  After the match was tied at two sets a piece they would enter the fifth and decisive set.

“You know it’s hard because you know they’re coming back strong, you know they want to win,” said Carey.  “But then you just have to mentally out-tough them and say ‘we want to win more.’”

In the final set, the Bobcats and Terriers would have to play to 15.  The Bobcats flew out of the gate with a 6-0 early lead.  The motivation turned after a kill by Georgieva and before long, St. Francis took a 7-6 lead.  After a missed spike opportunity by sophomore Olivia Grattan (Pittsburgh, Pa.), the Bobcats were on the verge of losing the game, trailing 14-10.  The tides turned when Terriers junior Amanda Rojas faulted the game-winning serve.  The Bobcats would then score five straight points after this to win the set and game 16-14.

“I think we panicked a little bit and pressed too hard instead of letting it flow again,” said Sparks.  “I think they put a little pressure on themselves…we play a lot better when we don’t think.”

With this win, the Bobcats are now 12-5 all-time against St. Franics, including a 7-1 home record. They will face Long Island University at Burt Kahn Court Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.

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New Hampshire sweeps Quinnipiac

By Taylor Massey, QBSN Staff Writer

September 17th, 2011
After being defeated in a three-set match against Yale earlier today, Quinnipiac returned to its home court to take on the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.

The Wildcats proved to be an even match-up, as neither team held a strong lead in the first set. The Bobcats trailed by only a few points for most of the first set before keeping a tied score up until the final points of the set. The Wildcats eventually took the first set in a narrow 26-24 win.

The second set began just as competitively with both teams continuously getting points on the board. Again, New Hampshire managed to hold a slim lead over Quinnipiac. As the set went on, Wildcats increased their lead to 22-15 over the Bobcats, then finally winning the second set, 24-15.

During a pre-game interview coach Robin Sparks noted the Bobcats have been playing with a new line-up as a result of several injuries on the team. Junior Logan Riker (Bowling Green, Ohio) and freshman Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C.) were both out for tonight’s game.

The Bobcats took an immediate lead over the Wildcats at the beginning of the third set with freshman Brittanie Robinson (Fresno, Calif.) scoring the first point. They let their early lead slip away as the Wildcats fired back with some powerful kills.

The match ended in a sweep with New Hampshire taking the final set 25-17. New Hampshire senior Amy Keding led the team in kills, recording six of her 10 kills in the first set.

On the Bobcats side, freshman Tanner Celestin (Norco, Calif.) also started out strong earning nine kills in the first set and bringing it to a team high 13 kills by the end of the match. Celestin was covering for the injured Allen.

Sparks attributes some of their weaknesses to the new line-up.

“There are some young girls out there in new positions that aren’t exactly sure where they should be,” she said.

Despite losing in a sweep, the Bobcats had a strong start before the energy was lost. Junior Taylor Payne (Warwick, N.Y.) is focused on keeping the energy consistent in future games.

“We need to find a way to conserve that energy and keep that fight going,” Payne said.

This game leaves Quinnipiac with a 1-12 record. The Bobcats have some time before their next game on Sep. 25 against Central Connecticut. They’ll be able to utilize this time to strengthen their new line-up.

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Army blasts Bobcats, 3-1

By Michael Desjardins, QBSN Staff Writer

September 16th, 2011

In the first game of the Yale/Quinnipiac Tournament, the Quinnipiac Bobcats women’s volleyball team put up a valiant effort against a fierce Army Black Knights team, but ultimately lost 3-1.

The first set began competitively, although Quinnipiac never took the lead. However, by the middle of the set, the Bobcats fell apart, and Army was able to take it, 25-12.

Quinnipiac would go on to lose the second set, as well by a score of 25-17. Midway through the game, Army would win nine of 12 points, including seven straight. However, the Bobcats did not give up.

“Well, you know, in volleyball, you could lose 25-0 in two sets and win the match,” said Bobcat coach Robin Sparks. “You just have to forget what’s happened, and move forward and think about what you are going to do next.”

In the third set, they bounced back and squeaked by with the 25-23 win, thanks in large part to senior Kayla Lawler’s (Louisville, K.Y.) 11 assists. Lawler also led the team with 14 digs and total 31 assists.

“I think they are starting to grasp that it’s in their control to what’s going on the court,” said Sparks. “They really took control of themselves, and they made a commitment to change what was going on and they did a great job of it.”

The fourth set was a back-and-forth matchup, with neither team able to take an advantage. However, the Black Knights took control late in the set on a 5-2 run, winning 25-22.

With the loss, Quinnipiac falls to 1-10 on the season while Army improves to 8-3.

The Bobcats return to action on Saturday as part of the weekend’s Yale/Quinnipiac Tournament. Quinnipiac will play the Yale Bulldogs (4-3) on the road at 1 p.m. before hosting winless New Hampshire (0-13) at 7 p.m.

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Bobcats drop second straight, lose 3-0 to Delaware State

By Jon Alba, QBSN Staff Writer

September 10th, 2011

Despite a strong showing against a hungry Delaware State Hornets squad, the Quinnipiac Bobcats women’s volleyball team failed to win its second match of the day Saturday afternoon, losing 3-0 at Burt Kahn Court.

The Hornets came out of the gates strong with a 4-0 run, but Quinnipiac responded with an emphatic spike by star freshman outside hitter Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C.). Allen would go on to lead the team in kills with 10 throughout the contest.

Ultimately though, behind two consecutive crafty plays anchored by Hornets middle blocker Laisha Davis, Delaware State stole the first set 25-22.
The second set opened with consistent play from both sides, but a crowd-rattling kill by Bobcats middle hitter Olivia Grattan (Pittsburgh, Pa.) pulled Quinnipiac within three late in the set. However, Davis would once again emerge with a forceful spike, clinching the second set for the Hornets 25-23.

Even as the third got underway with a back-and-forth battle consisting of excellent teamwork and communication by both teams, Delaware State proved to be too much, clinching the victory by winning the slot 25-23. The Hornets picked up their first win of the season, moving to 1-7 overall.

“For most of that match we had one senior, four freshmen, and a sophomore on the floor,” said Bobcats coach Robin Sparks, attributing some of the team’s difficulties to their youth and inexperience. “We made some freshmen mistakes. I told them they have to learn how to let things go.”

Even with the relative young age of the squad, several Quinnipiac players posted respectable numbers in the loss. Sophomore Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) sported 16 digs, while rising freshman Krista Bennett (Scottsdale, Ariz.) aided with 10 of her own. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, unforced errors on serves and minor tips by the Hornets attack late in the third set cost them their eighth loss of the season.

“I think we’re going to try to be more aggressive and talkative,” Bennett told QBSN following the match. “From here on out we just plan on going strong.”

Quinnipiac (1-8) will face a testy Hartford Hawks (5-6) team on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. at home.
“We’ll sit tonight and watch the tape to see whatever it takes to work,” said Sparks. “And it will work. We just have to find the right formula.”

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Volleyball falls to Navy after another 5-set match

By: Taylor Massey, QBSN Staff Writer

September 10th, 2011

After a thrilling five-set match against La Salle last night, which resulted in a Bobcat victory, the team took to the court today for another long-winded game. Ultimately, the Bobcats were defeated 3-2 by Navy, but not without some career highs by several players.

Quinnipiac came out on top in the first set with a slim lead of 25-21. The Bobcats kept up with Navy in the second and third sets, maintaining a neck-to-neck score before letting it slip away. Navy was in the lead at the end of the third set, 2-1.

The Bobcats entered the fourth match with determination. They took an early lead and kept it consistent and until winning the set. Freshman Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C.) had six of her career-high 15 kills in the set. Allen led the Bobcats to even the match and bringing the teams into a decisive fifth set.

Navy took the lead in the final set, but the Bobcats weren’t going down without a fight. They evened the score 14-14, keeping a victory for the Midshipwomen just out of reach for a moment longer. Unfortunately the Bobcats couldn’t hold onto the game long enough, and Navy scored the final two points to take the match.

During post-game discussions coach Robin Lamott Sparks spoke with pride about her defensive players. She focused especially on sophomore Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.), who had a career-high of 29 digs.

“Tracy played a great game… 29 digs is pretty incredible,” said Sparks.

Wright, who has been inserted as libero due to junior Logan Riker’s (Bowling Green, Ohio) injury in last night’s game, confessed she didn’t even realize how many digs she tallied. Wright said after last night’s game she was “mentally prepared” to play libero. As for her 29 digs, Wright said “It’s great… something I worked hard for.”

When asked what needs to be improved for the rest of the season Sparks responded “We [need] to cut down on our unforced errors.” However, she is confident that this is an achievable goal saying “We have a lot of depth on the team this year. If someone’s not getting something done, we can put someone else out there.” Sparks and the entire team are working hard to find the right combination for a winning season.

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Bobcats notch first win in thriller

By Angelique Fiske, QBSN Staff Writer

September 9th, 2011

The Bobcats’ first win of the season came in a dramatic 3-2 win in their home opener against the La Salle Explorers.  In front of an enthusiastic crowd, Quinnipiac improved their record to 1-6, as La Salle dropped to 2-8.

Senior Kelby Carey (Surfside Colony, Calif.) and freshman Tierra Allen (Sumter, S.C.) led the team with 13 kills each, followed closely by junior Taylor Payne (Warwick, N.Y.) with 11 of her own.  Senior Kayla Lawler (Louisville, Ky.) had an unprecedented 41 assists throughout the match, and sophomore Tracy Wright (Fair Lawn, N.J.) led the team with 18 digs.

After dropping the first set to the Explorers 25-16, the Bobcats came back with a fierce second set, keeping the Explorers quiet in the opening minutes.  Even though La Salle came within striking distance, the Bobcats closed out the second set 25-22.  La Salle then took the overall score to 2-1, winning the third set 25-21.  With a 25-19 fourth set win, the Bobcats tied the overall score 2-2, forcing a fifth deciding set. Despite both teams putting up a fight, never letting the other run away with a lead, the Bobcats came out on top winning the set 20-18.

“I’m really, really pleased with the poise we showed and the steadiness,” said Quinnipiac coach Robin Sparks.  “It doesn’t matter what the score is, you play like you’re winning.  I think we did that really well the fifth game. I think that’s going to do a lot for our confidence.”

The great composure Sparks praised came from a variety of places, particularly after junior libero Logan Riker (Bowling Green, Ohio) was removed from the game in the third set due to an injury.

“When Logan went out, I think we really felt like we had to step it up.  She’s a huge presence on our team,” said Payne.  “I turned to her right when we won and said ‘that was for you.’  She’s one of our captains; she’s just an amazing player all together.”

Even though the team lost Riker halfway through the match, “Tracy [Wright] came in and did a really good job,” said Allen.

The team’s ability to accommodate fallen players is something that had been a stretch in the past, Payne recalling that “last year it was whoever could stand got on the court.”  A lot of this has been credited to the freshmen class.

“Occasionally with freshmen they might freak out, but they’re very steady, very calm.  I wouldn’t think that they were freshmen,” said Carey.

The support for the freshman class and the team in general in the home opener also noticeably had an effect on the game’s energy level. Payne, whose father can be seen with a variety of crazy hats, picked up on the change in atmosphere.

“We’ve never had a crowd like that in my entire life.  Nick Sczerbinski, the president of QU Spirit, actually came up to me last weekend and was like ‘I think I have a few people coming to the game, do you think your dad would mind?’ Do you think he would mind? Bring as many people as you want,” she said.

In her first home game, Allen found the support hard to ignore as well with her friends, family, and roommates armed with vibrant posters and body paint.

“I think the crowd, our friends, our families, and Taylor’s dad, all of that just helps you play better,” Allen said.  “It’s hard to suck having all of that support behind you.”

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