The Marist volleyball team increased their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) winning streak on Friday, as they swept their longtime rival, Siena Saints, 3-0.
This game had a large crowd, much due to a rather surprising promotion. The day before the match, it was announced that the first 100 students in attendance would earn a free slice of pizza. In addition to social media, a hand-made sign that showcased the game’s matchup was also displayed outside the side of the student center.
The pizza supply was all purchased by head coach, Sean Byron. Twelve regular sliced pies from Giacomo’s Pizza, with napkins and plates, were assigned on a longtable just outside the volleyball court entrance. Two members of the Marist Athletics event staff stood by the stock to prevent from second takers.
“It was just to get students to come here,” Byron said. All in all, the order went to about $125.
As for the crowd itself, they were into the action as always. Despite the fact that the match occurred at the same time as a Yankees postseason game, most of the bleachers were filled, primarily with Marist students. To make things even better, it was clear that the students were in it for more than just the pizza. Whether it was screaming on kills, “oohing” on attacks, or “booing” questionable calls, the fans made sure to make their presence known on this night.
“I thought we had a good crowd,” Byron discussed about the atmosphere. “It’s tough at 6:00p.m. on a Friday night, but I thought that students would like pizza and free gear.” To add on, Byron also promised more potential promotions in the future such as t-shirt and a Halloween costume night.
Transitioning over to the game, senior outside hitter Megan Fergus was able to return to the starting lineup after suffering a lower arm injury in the third set of Tuesday’s loss to Army West Point. Fergus is on pace to have the best statistical season of her career, as she currently leads the team in kills, points, and blocks.
The first set was a back-and forth showdown. After having a 12-10 lead, Marist went on an 8-3 run and was ahead by a score of 20-13. Despite the roaring crowd however, Siena would then go on a run of their own. With the help of a couple of attack errors and a service ace, the Saints were able to cut the deficit to 20-19. They would even go on to take a 23-22 lead with the help of some service errors. However in the end, Marist would retaliate scoring the next three points, including a service ace from Marist’s Gabby Murray that went right off of Siena’s Sol Guidarelli fingers. The final score of the set was 25-23.
Coming off a nerve ranking first set, the second set was even closer. No team was able to break away from the other, as the largest deficit in the set was just three. Fergus and outside hitter, Nikki DeSerpa were the stars of this point, as the duo combined for 13 kills. This mayhem would continue on until the teams were tied at 20, where Marist went on a 5-2 run, capped off by three kills from Fergus. The set score was 25-22.
“We played a lot of matches like that all year,” said Byron when asked about his team’s resilience. Byron also went on to mention that he is capable of living with errors as long as his team hits the ball hard, isn’t afraid of the moment, and gives it their best effort “By just staying aggressive and playing hard, I think the kids will believe that and get paid off for it.”
As for the third set, things went a lot easier for the Red Foxes. After a 9-9 tie score, the Red Foxes were able to score the game’s next seven points, four from kills, two from attack errors, and one service ace. Although Siena would try to slow down Marist with a multiple timeouts, the Red Foxes would continue to push hard behind four kills from DeSerpa. All in all, DeSerpa’s kill total in the set reached nine. In the end, the deficit was too difficult for the Saints to overcome, as they were swept with the help of a 25-17 final score.
DeSerpa was certainly the player of the game, setting a season-high in kills with 18. The senior was able to get her career kill total up to 1,039, passing both Kelsey Ediber and Courtney Shaw for sixth and fifth on the all time list. DeSerpa’s next step will be to catch up to Sally Hanson, who is currently 102 kills away from her.
“It’s been really awesome, it’s a big honor to be on this list.” DeSerpa said about the accolade. “I know a few girls on the list, and how hard they worked when they were at school here, so it’s an honor.”
“I think we’re very confident when we go up against this team,” DeSerpa added on. “We stick to our game plan and scout them very hard. It helps us a lot.”
Having defeated Quinnipiac, Saint Peter’s, Rider, and now Siena, Marist currently moves to a 4-1 record and third place in the MAAC standings, as of October 4th. Now with the last 13 regular season games of the consisting of only MAAC opponents, Byron feels that the team is doing a good job in following his plan.
“It’s certainly where you want to be,” Byron said. “The thing we talk about is that we look at it in terms of two weekends. We want to go 3-1 over two weekends. If you constantly go 3 out of 4, 3 out of 4, and 3 out of 4, that should put you in first or second place in the league and a bye in the MAAC tournament.”
The Red Foxes hope to keep their MAAC momentum going on Wednesday, where they will take on the Quinnipiac Bobcats. First serve is scheduled at 7:00 P.M.