The only thing harder than winning a title is repeating as champion, as the old adage goes. But the Fairfield volleyball team certainly did its best to make it look easy last Sunday, defeating Marist in straight sets to give them consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 2001.

After beating Manhattan 3-1 the day before, the Stags came up against Marist, the second seed in the tournament. The Red Foxes finished with the same 14-4 record in MAAC play this season, but were given the second seed due to their 0-2 record against Fairfield. Marist had come in with the longest winning streak in the conference at the time, which had reached eight games with their semifinal win over Iona.

Fairfield started out the first set well, taking a 9-5 lead, but Marist answered and would make it a two-point game at 17-15. Fairfield won eight of the next nine points, taking the first set 25-16, aided by their .459 hitting percentage in the set, with just three errors for the team.

The second set was more of a back-and-forth affair early on, but the Stags pulled away to take a 16-11 lead on a kill by Marilyn Peizer ’15, one of her 10 kills on the day. Marist pulled within three at 16-13, but Fairfield yet again would go on a late run and score eight straight points, and would take later take the set on a Marist service error.

The third and final set was much of the same for both sides, as it was close early on with the Stags only leading by two at 12-10. A kill by Haley Moyer ’14, who also had 10 kills on the afternoon, put the Fairfield lead at 18-12, and following a Marist timeout, the Stags would continue to roll and cruise to the 25-15 victory, sending them back to the NCAA Tournament.

“When that last point went down, it was just crazy,” said Moyer in an interview with  “I know I just turned to my teammates who had just run onto the court, and just started bawling crying, because I knew we had done it for the second time, and it being my senior year, it was so cool to know we had done it.”

Senior Rachel Romansky was named the MAAC Championship Most Outstanding Player, and earned on a spot on the All-Tournament team for the fourth consecutive year. She averaged 12.71 assists per set in the two games in the tournament, while adding eight digs, four aces and six kills. Joining her on the All-Tournament team were Moyer and Caitlin Stapleton ’15. Moyer had a .500 hitting percentage with just one error for both games, and Stapleton averaged four kills and had eight total blocks for the Stags.

Although the Stags made the win last Sunday look easy, they had a tougher time just getting to the MAAC Tournament this season. With a 1-3 start to conference play, any postseason play whatsoever looked doubtful, with an NCAA Tournament appearance not even an afterthought.

Fairfield rattled off 12 straight victories after that however, putting them back at the top of the MAAC standings by early November.

The Stags got back to their winning ways thanks to contributions from across the lineup, and improved play from the upperclassmen. Romansky recovered after some shaky games earlier in the season, returning to her usual high level of play en route to being named the MAAC Setter of the Year for the third straight season, something that had never been done before in league history.

Peizer stepped up on offense, getting double digit kills in 14 straight matches. Moyer also improved her play, with a .358 hitting percentage for the season which was best in the MAAC and among the best in the country. Both Peizer and Romansky were named to the All-MAAC First Team, and Moyer was named to the All-MAAC Second Team for their efforts.

Fairfield now heads to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the eighth-ranked Cornhuskers from the University of Nebraska, who finished the season with a 23-6 record. The Stags hope to improve on last season’s showing in the tournament, where they lost in straight sets to the University of Southern California. Fairfield is scheduled to face the Cornhuskers on Friday, Dec. 6.

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