The Fairfield University women’s volleyball team played host to Iona University on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at Leo D. Mahoney Arena. Junior Mikayla Haut had a team-high 12 kills, Blakely Montgomery ‘25 recorded a double-double with a season-high 21 digs and Fairfield (11-5 overall, 7-1 in conference) pulled away after a tight opening set to beat the Iona Gaels (8-12 overall, 4-5 in conference), 3-0 according to the game’s official box score.
The win puts the Stags half a game behind league leaders Marist (8-1) in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) standings.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, with the largest lead being a four-point Fairfield advantage at 17-13. However, the Gaels would go on to win nine of the next 11 points to take a 22-19 lead and force a Stags timeout.
“[Iona] wants to just play really fast,” said Fairfield coach Nancy Somera. “At the beginning in that first set we were trying to do that also … it started to feel very frantic on our side of the net.”
The teams traded points out of the break, setting up arguably the play of the match from Stags libero Kyla Berg ‘24. A sharp swing down the line threatened to put the Gaels on set point, but a layout dig from Berg kept the ball in play, with a kill from Montgomery finishing off the point a few touches later. The Stags then rode that momentum to a 26-24 comeback win in the opening frame.
“I rely on my team and I know my team relies on me,” Berg said, “so I knew I had to pick that up, and if I picked it up, someone was gonna put it down.”
The big play sparked the Stags for the rest of the match, and with the help of Haut’s offense and Montgomery’s 28 assists, they rode that momentum to comfortable wins of 25-17 and 25-18 in the second and third sets to close out the win.
Haut’s 12-kill outing is her third straight in double digits, including a season-high 19 last Friday against Quinnipiac University. The junior outside hitter credited her sustained success to her teammates after the game.
“Our middles and our setters do a great job of seeing the other side of the court before I can even see it,” she said, “so they put me in a great position to have a split in the block or have a one-on-one opportunity. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to get the kills I do.”
The Stags had more to celebrate after the game than just their fourth straight victory. Berg’s 17 dig performance helped her pass the career 1,000 mark in her final season. And in a fitting symbol of the captain’s storied career, it was with the diving save in the first set that she reached the number.
Fairfield will now look ahead to back-to-back weekend contests at Mahoney Arena against Rider and Saint Peter’s, with a chance to vault themselves atop the conference standings.