A day after sweeping Saint Peter’s University in the Dig Pink Match at Alumni Hall, the Stags looked to add another win to their home stand. This would be no easy task as Fairfield was set to host Rider University, who was coming into the competition 5-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

“It’s only the first week of October, but we knew it was a big match. And the fact that Rider was coming in undefeated and we didn’t start off conference play the way we wanted to up in Buffalo,” said head coach Todd Kress of his mindset before the game. After a slow start to the match for Fairfield, they found a way to battle back, but it was not enough as Rider picked up the 3-1 win on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Both teams started the game slowly as they struggled to knock shots down. They eventually settled and began scoring as Rider scored first, followed by Fairfield. With the score tied 5-5, Rider began to feel comfortable and drop kills on the Stags. The Broncs now increased their lead to six as they held a 13-7 lead.

Fairfield continued to struggle as they had a hard time getting the ball through Rider’s lineup. The Broncs held a 22-16 lead, but the Stags battled back as they scored on three consecutive possessions to cut the lead down to four. Rider held off Fairfield’s late run to take the first set 25-20.

“I thought we came out a little flat, a little tight which has been our M.O. [method of operation]. We’ve done that a lot since the beginning of the season. We’re very young, but we don’t make excuses and we shouldn’t have been as tight as we were. [We] really didn’t find our stride until the second set,” said Kress.

Fairfield started the second set hot as they were knocking down shots left and right. “Just a different mindset, a different aggressiveness and took advantage of their errors,” said Kress about the team’s approach. Rider was forced to call a timeout after Skyler Day’s ‘18 kill off the assist of Kiley Lingenfelter ‘19 that gave the Stags an early 11-7 lead. Day would finish her performance of the day leading the Stags with 12 kills, her third match with a double-digit output.

“I thought we controlled the play. In the second set, he took a couple early timeouts. We felt like we were in control of that set the entire way,” said Kress. Behind Day’s five kills in the second set, the Stags picked up the win 25-17. Heading into the half, the game was tied 1-1.

The third set of the match was the closest, as both teams seemed to find their grooves both offensively and defensively. This set saw five lead changes and nine ties. It was a back and forth and it stayed like this for the majority of the time. At one time, Fairfield held a 13-10 lead, their biggest lead of the set.

After being tied at 15, Rider took advantage of a few errors from Fairfield. Rider scored five consecutive points to give them a 20-15 lead. Fairfield scored to close the gap to three, but it was not enough as the Broncs finished off the Stags 25-21.

The final set of the game saw Rider cruise its way to victory. After breaking a 3-3 tie, Rider could not be stopped as they knocked down consecutive shots to quiet the crowd of Alumni Hall. Rider finished the game 25-16 in the final set to take the 3-1 match victory.

“We need to be more aggressive. We need to have more of an aggressive edge, a mindset of going out and being aggressive on every point. Some people just need to do their job and we don’t have people doing their job right now. When we’re trying to pick up for weaknesses on the court, then that’s tough … So we need to do our job, number one, and we need to be aggressive and that should help us cut down on errors and execute at a higher level,” said Kress about what his team needs to improve on as they travel to Siena College on Saturday, Oct. 10 for their next MAAC game.


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