The Stags looked to extend their winning streak to four when they hosted the Purple Eagles of Niagara on Sunday, Nov. 1. After dropping the first set 24-26 to Niagara, Fairfield won the next three with set scores of 26-24, 25-22 and 25-15 to give Fairfield the four-set win behind 14 kills apiece from Skyler Day ’18, Megan O’Sullivan ’17 and Megan Theiller ’18.

“I was a little frustrated with the way we came out on the match. We know Niagara makes you work, but we picked it up. We ultimately pulled off a really hard-fought four-set win, but we’ve got to be ready to go from point one moving forward. There’s no easy matches the rest of the way,” said head coach Todd Kress.

After dropping the first set 24-26, Fairfield looked to bounce back and take the second set. Fairfield struggled to start the set as they were down early 4-10, which forced the Stags to take a timeout to gather themselves and battle back. “I challenge them a lot in timeouts. It’s about our energy, our effort and our passion. So we talked a lot about that in timeouts when it’s not at the level it needs to be,” said Kress about getting his team back on the right track.

Behind O’Sullivan’s five kills, Fairfield managed to cut the lead to one, 23-24, edging Niagara for the win 26-24. “It’s huge; that second set was big. That’s a team you don’t want to go down 2-0 against. They fight their tail off defensively and that was huge for us to get that second set no doubt. It was a turning point in the match,” said Kress.

The Stags started off slow once again in the third set, trailing early with a score of 10-14. But after several good possessions by Fairfield, they fought their way back into the game when they took the lead 17-15. When asked about her team’s ability to battle back, Day said, “We showed a lot of fight out there, so that’s always good to see. Everyone did their job and it’s a lot easier to win that way.”

The third set was back and forth between both teams, consisted of five tied scores and just three lead changes. With the set tied at 22, one team had to go in for the kill. The Stags answered that challenge and scored three consecutive points to give them the 25-22 set victory.

The start to the fourth set saw Fairfield’s offense on the aggressive end as they jumped out to an early 17-11 lead. Fairfield ran away with the game, as they could not be stopped as the final set saw Fairfield dominating 25-15. “I thought we were the better team in the fourth set … [We] had them out of system from the end line, did some nice things offensively, got our middles involved and we were the aggressive team in the fourth,” said Kress of the team’s play in the final set.

Day, who finished the game with 14 kills alongside both Theiller and O’Sullivan, and 12 digs, spoke about her play against Niagara: “I can attribute a lot of my performance to my team. It’s really easy to get good swings and get a lot of kills when you know your team is backing you up. I knew that everyone had my back especially on coverage, so it’s a lot easier to do my job when everyone else is behind me.”

Kress added, “I really like to see the balance offense, having 14 of our top three with Theiller, Skyler and Megan O’Sullivan, that’s hard to defend when you have three in double figures.”

Fairfield now improves to 13-9, 8-4 in Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference play and looks to continue its hot play as they head to the conclusion of the season.

“We’ll just look to get better every day. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re better than we were yesterday. We will continue to get better, we’re taking tomorrow off. We’re going to go out on Tuesday and practice. We’ve got a really tough match against Marist who is arguably the best team in the conference right now, on Wednesday night at home,” said Kress.

Fairfield will end its home stand on Wednesday, Nov. 4 as they host MAAC rival Marist who comes into the game with a 17-8 record, 10-4 in MAAC play.

 

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