The Fairfield University women’s volleyball team was swept in a weekend series against the Canisius Golden Griffs and the defending MAAC Champions Niagara Purple Eagles.
The loss against Niagara on Saturday snapped the Stag’s 16 match home winning streak which was the tenth longest in the nation tied with Michigan and Western Michigan.
It was also their first loss against a MAAC opponent at Alumni Hall since October 23, 2003 and the first time they dropped back-to-back games at home since 1992.
During that amazing run, Fairfield fans have been accustomed to the team leaving the court with the school’s fight song playing in the background and the chorus of fans applauding the win.
After the losses over the weekend, the energy at Alumni Hall seemed strange. There was no cheering, no music, no noise, the atmosphere was eerily quiet.
“You never want to lose at home,” head coach Ajilia Pittenger said. “The crowd has always been great for us. I think losing anywhere is unfortunate but you especially don’t want to lose for your home fans,” she said. Pittenger experienced only the fourth total loss on campus under her three year reign.
The team enters the final couple weekends of the regular season trying to improve before the ever important MAAC Tournament. “We need to learn how to communicate better with one another so that we know where to go and play as a better team,” Kara Reis said.
The sophomore libero led the squad with 28 digs over the weekend. The ability to communicate might have transferred over to their offense. The squad accumulated 57 errors in the past two games that puts them at 634 for the season. That is 234 more than their opponents. “We have to be able to play together on a consistent basis and we just haven’t done that so far,” Pittenger said.
The coach is trying to find a combination that meshes by introducing new people into new roles. Every member of the roster had playing time over the weekend. The coach hopes that the new rotations can spark something by the end of the season. She wants to be able to “put our best team and our best players and everyone playing well out there at the end of the year.”
Freshman Rachel Romansky sees the losses as a positive aspect getting near tournament time. “We have a lot of things to work on and it’s good to have your weaknesses shown to you,” she said.
The first year setter racked up a team high of 67 assists over the weekend. She feels that although the team knows what they want to do, their biggest weakness is that they “never put it into motion we can’t get it together,” she said.
With tournament time ticking down, the team must find their new identity that they have been searching for all this time. “If we can figure out a way to be more consistent, make those plays then there’s definitely a possibility of turning things around,” Pittenger said.
In order to do that, the team must come together as a unit for the final stretch. Having the ability to know what the team has to improve on before they play for the title will give the squad an advantage to shape up before the end.
These two crucial losses can be what the team needed to get them right back on track, “I think we can learn and change and hopefully win next weekend,” Reis said.
Despite not having the outcome that they would have liked, the team developed a buzz that reflected the chemistry of past Fairfield teams. “If we keep the energy up it’s definitely an intimidation for another team and I think if we keep doing that we’ll do well,” Romansky said.
She knows that the Stags won’t let the losses come to the as they play their final four games of the regular season, “It’s a big weekend, it’s either going to put us in a good place for the tournament or a bad place for the tournament. I think either way we are going to rise to the occasion.”
The five MAAC losses are the most since 1995 when they went 1-6. No Fairfield volleyball team has ever lost more than six conference games.