Last week, the Fairfield women’s volleyball team began their adventure toward a third consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship. However, it ended in defeat as the Stags fell to Marist 3-1 in the Tournament Semifinals.

Though a three-peat did not seem probable for a Fairfield team that had lost perennial All-MAAC athlete Rachel Romansky ‘14 and taken in new Head Coach Todd Kress, the rest of the team rose to the occasion to post a 17-11 regular season record. The girls also went 11-4 in their conference games. In the prior two years where they took home the MAAC crown, the Stags went a combined 41-22 and received seven All-MAAC selections.

In a season filled with the discovering of many new talents and new leadership by Kress, the Stags saw four players receive accolades for their performance throughout the season. Freshman Megan Theiller was named the MAAC Rookie of the Year, Caitlin Stapleton ‘15 was named to the All-MAAC First Team and Carsen Mata ‘15 and Hadley Orr ‘16 were named to the All-MAAC Second Team. Additionally, seven players were named to the MAAC All-Academic team.

Entering the MAAC Tournament, the fourth-seeded Fairfield team headed to Lake Buena Vista, Fla. to face the fifth-seeded Rider University volleyball team at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Thursday, Nov. 20. The Stags dealt with the Broncs with ease, sweeping the match by winning the first three sets. Four Fairfield players reached double figures as the team defeated Rider for the 12th consecutive time.

The Stags kept it close in the first and last sets, winning them 25-23 and 25-22, respectively. In the second set, Fairfield caught fire with a 25-14 victory in which they recorded a .342 hitting percentage. Theiller led all players with 14 kills, Stapleton finished with 12, Orr recorded 11 and Megan O’Sullivan ‘17 had 10 with a .471 hitting percentage. Mata also recorded 45 assists across the three sets.

After securing the victory over Rider, Fairfield went on to face the first-seeded Marist Red Foxes in the Tournament Semifinal match the next day. The Red Foxes came out firing on all cylinders, ultimately winning the match 3-1 (22-25, 23-25, 25-17, 20-25). Senior Camille Coffey finished with a program-record 36 digs. Over the course of the match, Theiller had 21 digs and 12 kills, while Orr also had a double-double with 11 kills and 21 digs. Stapleton ultimately led the team with 16 kills.

This loss to Marist ended Fairfield’s chance at winning three consecutive MAAC Championships and going to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament for the third straight year. However, the Stags did have a chance to play one more game before their season ultimately ended.

In the game for third place the next day, Fairfield faced the third-seeded Manhattan Jaspers in a game where they quickly fell 2-0. Yet, the Stags rallied to win the last three sets and ultimately win the match, securing third place in the MAAC Tournament. After totaling 21 attack errors in the first two sets, Fairfield hit just eight in the final three sets, starting with a .368 performance in the third set.

This was the first time Fairfield has beaten Manhattan all season long, and a fine way for the six seniors on the team to walk away with their heads held high. Also, with the win, Kress tied the program coaching record with his 113th career win at Fairfield. The Stags will look to contend for their third MAAC Championship in four years next season, their second under Kress.

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---- Senior | Editor-in-Chief Emeritus ---- Journalism/Communication

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