The Fairfield University volleyball team had the upper hand against Marist College (12-13, 10-5 MAAC) on Wednesday, Nov. 6, Rider University (14-13, 11-4 MAAC) on Saturday, Nov. 9 and Saint Peter’s (3-25, 1-15 MAAC) on Sunday, Nov. 10, defending their 16-game hot streak on the George Bisacca Court at Alumni Hall. The Stags were unbeatable and defeated the Red Foxes 3-1, the Broncs 3-1 and the Peacocks 3-0 with individual set scores of (24-26, 25-13, 26-24, 25-12), (25-15, 20-25, 25-13, 25-12) and (25-17, 25-23, 25-16) respectively.
For the second time in conference play, the Stags fell short 1-0 when Marist stepped up to give them a run for their money. Luckily, the team promptly responded, surging in the second period. Senior Mayda Garcia showed up ready to fight and recorded her eighth double-double of her final campaign with 16 kills and 12 digs. Joining her on the offensive front were Joelle Battles ‘23 and Laura Seeger ‘22, who each sent home finishers in the double digits. Battles had 13 while Seeger tallied 11. Senior Manuela Nicolini picked up her 14th double-double of the season, amassing 15 digs and 46 assists and added a single kill to the stats sheet. She continued a fast paced attack into Saturday’s match when she added another double-double with 13 digs and 42 assists
Fairfield’s win over Rider secured their place as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s top seed looking ahead at the MAAC championship tournament. Nicolini and Luci Albertson ‘21 guarded the net, delivering seven blocks each to contribute to the squad’s season high of 15. First-year Morgan Doll and Sonja Radulovic ‘20 pulled their weight in the end line with 14 digs and 13 digs respectively. In addition, the victory marked the 2019 season’s 20th win, a feat that hasn’t been reached since 1996. This stood as Fairfield volleyball’s 15th 20-win season of all time.
On Sunday, Stag Country celebrated seniors Jamie Calandro, Garcia, Nicolini and Radulovic in a ceremony preceding a match against Saint Peter’s. The afternoon’s three-set sweep indicated the quartet of veterans’ 88th career win. In typical fashion, Nicolini drove the offense and dished out 42 assists plus 11 digs. She leads the conference in assists per set, averaging 11.03 per frame. Her formidable performance over the three games garnered her recognition as the MAAC player of the week. Calandro had a hand in three helpers and, in the libero spot, reached a career best of 18 digs.
With just a pair of conference games remaining in the season, the stakes are high to keep the momentum going as the MAAC Championship tournament is just around the corner on Friday, Nov 22. The Stags currently are 21-4 overall, and undefeated in the MAAC with 16 conference wins under their belt. This weekend they are poised to face competition in New York. First, they will take on the Canisius College Griffins (13-15,10-6 MAAC) on Saturday, Nov. 16 in Buffalo, and then they will round off the trip in Niagara against the Niagara University Purple Eagles (12-14, 11-5 MAAC), which will conclude MAAC play.