After a narrow victory last night over Iona, Marist made quick work of Manhattan this afternoon, defeating the Jaspers in three straight sets.
The Red Foxes had their way with Manhattan, swinging for a .351 hit percentage, and holding the Jaspers to just a .067 percentage. Despite a dominant scoring outburst, no one on the Marist side recorded double digit kills, as nine Red Foxes combined to make up Marist’s 34 kills on the day.
Coming off their hard-fought victory late last night, Marist came out of the gates slow to start the first set. For the first 30 points, Marist and Manhattan were neck and neck, tied at 15 apiece. Seven of Manhattan’s 15 came for free, on three missed serves and four attack errors from the Red Foxes.
Marist then rattled off five straight points, seemingly running away with the set. Manhattan would not back down, as they fought back to tie the score at 21. Marist would reach set point first at 24-22, but this one was far from over, as 25 points was not near enough for this set. Neither side could finish the job, until senior outside hitter Jordan Newblatt came up with a big block touch to win the set for Marist, 30-28.
The Red Foxes benefited from unforced errors from the Jaspers, who missed two serves in overtime. While Newblatt led the way with five kills, Marist saw a strong contribution from senior middle hitter Vanessa Zolg. Zolg had two kills and was a part of two blocks, one of which being a solo block to force a Manhattan timeout.
“It took a little while to adjust,” said head coach Sean Byron.
Following the nail biting victory, Marist would adjust, settling in for the second set after falling behind 3-1, scoring nine of the following 14 points before Manhattan burned a timeout. The timeout proved ineffective, as the Red Foxes outscored Manhattan 13-3, winning the set 25-9.
Senior outside hitter Sasha van der Merwe was dominant, swinging for four kills on just four attempts. She contributed on defense, taking part in two blocks and digging one attack before she was subbed out for sophomore right side Morgan Munro.
“Her blocking has really improved a lot,” said Byron.
The 16 point margin of victory was their highest of the season, beating out their 25-11 second set win last night against Iona. Unlike last night’s contest, Marist would not let their opponent back in, continuing their dominance in the third set.
Marist took an early lead, and it turned into a youth movement at McCann Arena. Byron took the opportunity to empty the bench, allowing for many Red Foxes to make their home debuts.
“We told the starters: ‘hey, don’t take those opportunities away from the kids that haven’t played because you’re sloppy with it’,” said Byron.
Freshmen middle hitter Trinity Woods, setter Jordan Curran, outside hitter Vallane Sneva, and libero Claudia Kasperski all saw their first action at McCann Arena in their collegiate careers.
Byron also mixed in Munro, redshirt freshman middle blocker Mikayla Keefer, redshirt sophomore Sally Tietjen, and senior right side Anne Mahler and defensive specialist Kendall O’Brien also got some playing time late in the third set.
Curran put a close to the set with a kill, giving Marist a 25-17 victory to complete the sweep. The victory moves Marist to 7-1 in conference play, giving them a share of first place in the MAAC.
While Marist won a wild match against Iona, Fairfield took down Quinnipiac 3-1, handing them their first MAAC loss of the season. This left Marist, Quinnipiac, and Fairfield all tied for first in the MAAC with 6-1 records.
With only the top two seeds receiving a bye in the MAAC tournament, it should make for an interesting battle to keep track of the rest of the season. The team that takes home the one seed will also hold a distinct advantage; only needing to face one of the other two MAAC favorites in the championship.
It’s essential for Marist to keep pace with Quinnipiac and Fairfield, as they only play each of them once more this season. Both matchups come on the road in the first weekend of November. The Connecticut road trip could ultimately decide how the top half of the tournament bracket shakes out.
Marist’s next task comes this Wednesday, home against St. Peters at 7 p.m., where Marist will look to stay atop the MAAC.
Edited by Dan Aulbach
Photo Credit: Jaylen Rizzo