After dropping a decision to the Fordham Rams on Wednesday the Stags returned home: the place where they have dominated for nearly seven years.
Since 2003, Fairfield is 55-1 against conference opponents in the campus arena. They were back to their winning ways this weekend as they swept the two day series.
There seems to be a new life to this team when they are playing at home.
“I think the atmosphere helps,” freshman setter Rachel Romansky said after the win on Sunday.
The emotion of the games over the weekend was filled with tension and energy. With the team down in the fifth set to the Iona Gaels on Saturday, there was a buzz that drew over the crowd filled with students with their families and alumni.
The red and white benches literally shook as the Stags final kill smashed down on the court right in between the Iona defense.
The team charged the court feeding off the excitement of the fans. After it all ended, Fairfield stole a match that looked like they were going to drop, but they were able to take down the then third placed Iona Gaels.
The back-to-back five set matches might have the team tired for an evident “let down” game featuring the 1-20 Rider Broncs.
“It was a good gutted win they played hard at the end and we did everything and they worked hard,” coach Ajila Pittenger said after the win on Sunday.
The Broncs whose only conference win in the past two years came against Fairfield in 2009, forced the Stags into four sets and kept each set close. Rider did not lose any of the three sets by more than two points.
This has become a different Fairfield Volleyball team than the past.
They do not have that one star athlete that has become a go to player when they need a kill or they need a point, instead the 2010 team is becoming known for its different role changes.
Junior Bethany Steiger has gotten the starting nod in several of the recent matches and has already tallied 16 blocks in those contests.
With the emergence of Rachel Romansky, who starts the weekend in fifth place in the MAAC in assists, the two other setters on the team, junior Lauren Balmert and senior Hannah Segebart have been forced to look at different roles to help their team.
Balmert entered the year fifth in program history in assists but has been looked to as someone to pick up a kill instead of a set.
Segebart, a transfer, also has received more playing time in the recent home games to try and increase the depth on the court.
Third year head coach Ajila Pittenger enjoys these players stepping up into new roles, “It gives us more options and more combinations to work with,” she said.
Junior Haililani Pokipala has become more of an offensive threat and has even been named MAAC Offensive player of the week for the first time in her career. However, she thinks everyone can still step up. She said, “I feel everyone is that go to player.”
This squad will face their hardest challenge of the year when Canisius and Niagara make the trip to Fairfield this coming Satruday and Sunday.
Fairfield will try to keep their 16 match home win streak alive against two of the top teams in the conference including the defending MAAC Champions.
They have already lost to both teams on the road but they seem to have a different energy when playing in front of their home fans.
They are confident with the students on their feet cheering and they know that it is “Our House.”
First year star, Rachel Romansky said, “We know that we’re home and nobody beats us in our gym.”
Women’s Volleyball finishes off their last few weeks of season play against several MAAC opponents. They hope to remain strong as they go into the postseason MAAC tournament, which will take place in Lake Buena Vista, Fl. at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.