HAMDEN, Conn. – Burt Kahn Court was electric on Saturday as the Quinnipiac women's volleyball team upset Rider, 3-1, for their first MAAC victory in program history. The Bobcat offense was clicking on all cylinders against a team in the Broncs who came in no lower than third in the conference standings for all major statistical categories. The Quinnipiac defense shut down the lethal Rider attack with 18 total blocks as a team including 13 (3 solo, 10 assists) for freshman Allison Leigh (Palmer, Alaska). Quinnipiac's triumph improves their record to 3-13 (1-3 MAAC) while Rider's record falls to 10-4 (2-2 MAAC).
Leigh's record-breaking day at the net included 12 kills for her first career double double. Coming into today's action tied for the lead in the MAAC with 58 blocks, she moved her per set block average to 1.22, easily tops among all conference players. Her single-game block total was the most for any Quinnipiac player in the Division I era (since 1998) as her conference-leading total moves up to 71 on the season. She also helped nullify a potential Freshman of the Year candidate in Rider's Kaitlyn Griffin to just five kills, four errors and a .067 hitting percentage (came into Saturday hitting at .324 percent this season).
Leigh and the Bobcats also got a massive lift from the play of other middle hitter, freshman Sam Alechko (Harrington Park, N.J.) who finished with a career day across the board. Alechko went for eight kills against just one error for a team-high hitting percentage of .583. She also was a menace from the service line with three aces and added five blocks (2 solo, 3 assists), all of which represented career highs for the ever-improving middle hitter.
Freshman setter Emma Ogden (Crown Point, Ind.) continued to impress as she finished with a career high 47 assists to go along with another career high seven blocks, the last of which coming on match point to finish off the thrilling Bobcat victory. Freshman Jamie Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) went for a team and career high 13 kills while junior Tanner Celestin (Norco, Calif.) tallied 10 kills against Rider.
The Bobcats traded blows with Rider in the early going as they each won a set to open the match as play entered the third set tied, 1-1. Quinnipiac won the first set in which the offense took control, finishing with a match-high 15 kills in the set alone. Celestin and Paolucci each tallied five kills each which Alechko recorded two of her three services aces in the set.
Where the match completely turned in the Bobcats' favor was the third set as a great display with a total team approach helped prove the difference in a decisive come-from-behind victory. Trailing 21-16 with Rider serving late in the third set, Quinnipiac put forth an amazing effort starting with a Leigh kill. After Leigh and Ogden combined for a block, freshman Katie Urycki (Chesterton, Ind.) came through with a kill to force the Broncs into a timeout. Despite the brief break in action, there was no stopping the Bobcat onslaught as Leigh blocked another, junior Brittanie Robinson (Fresno, Calif.) tallied an ace and Urycki smashed another kill as the Bobcats took the lead, 22-21. The set-clinching 9-0 Quinnipiac run was capped by a pair of combination blocks from Leigh and Urycki and then a Urycki kill ended it in a 25-21 victory.
The theme continued into the fourth set as the Bobcats trailed once again late, 21-18, but were able to rally behind the stellar play of their defense. Leigh once again started the run with a kill and then a combination block with Robinson. An Alechko ace put the Bobcats ahead 22-21 and after the Broncs tied the score at 22-22, a Paolucci kill and two consecutive blocks ended the match in victory for the Bobcats.
Quinnipiac will look to start a winning streak of their own on Sunday as they take on Saint Peter's at 1:00 pm from Burt Kahn Court.
Contact: Maxx McNall; email@example.com