Following an impressive victory over Quinnipiac, Marist volleyball fell to Fairfield this afternoon, 3-1.
In the loss, senior outside hitters Jordan Newblatt and Sasha van der Merwe led the way for the Red Foxes, combining for 40 of Marist’s 57 kills. 21 came from van der Merwe, and Newblatt tallied the other 19.
Fairfield brought a more balanced attack, with seven Stags scoring multiple kills, yet none recording more than 12.
In the first set of action, Fairfield held control for nearly the entirety of the set. Marist took the first point of the match, then never held the lead again. The sides split points early, but eventually, Fairfield took the lead and never gave it up. Marist tied it at 13, but the Stags then outscored them 12-7 to take the afternoon’s first set.
The set was sloppy for both sides. Neither team could get it going offensively, both hitting well under .050. The quiet output can be credited to strong blocking on both sides of the net. This trend continued for the duration of the match, as neither team swung for a hitting percentage over .200.
The majority of the second set played out similarly to the first, featuring Fairfield in the driver’s seat. This time, Marist did take back the lead for the first time at 19-18. Two points later, Marist led 20-19 and the Stags called a timeout to talk it over. At the time of the timeout, Newblatt and van der Merwe had combined for 17 Marist kills, while the rest of the squad only had 12.
Out of the timeout, the Stags won four straight points, earning a healthy 23-20 advantage. Looking like they would cruise to another 25-20 victory, Marist battled back, taking the following two points. This set the stage for a pivotal, wild 23-22 point.
In a marathon of a point, every player on the court had a hand on the ball. The point lasted for just over a minute, a thrilling rally. Newblatt finally ended the point with a kill, tying the set at 23.
Perhaps Marist put all their energy into both the comeback and the point, as Fairfield swiftly took the following two points to win the set. The Stags now had dug the Red Foxes into a daunting 2-0 hole.
The Red Foxes completely flipped the script in the fourth set, utterly dominating. In the blink of an eye, they sprinted out to a huge lead, winning nine of the first 10 points. From there, Marist left no doubt, winning the set 25-15.
After Marist’s early lead, the Stags never brought the deficit under five. The Red Foxes stayed alive, extending the match to a fourth set with their eyes set on tying the match back up.
The Stags returned the favor in the fourth, winning a dominant set of their own. The set kicked off with each side trading points, but Fairfield took off. Soon enough, the Stags possessed a controlling 16-7 lead. Marist never made it a game, while Fairfield won the set 25-15, giving Marist a taste of their own medicine.
With their win, the Stags clinched themselves a bye in the upcoming MAAC tournament, taking place in their home gym. Despite their loss, Marist remains in third in the conference thanks to some help from the Rider Broncos, who swept Niagara this afternoon.
The Red Foxes still sit a half-game ahead, but the Purple Eagles play two games next weekend, compared to Marist’s one. They are now officially out of question for earning a bye, meaning to win the MAAC championship, the Red Foxes will need to win three games in three days.
Marist will close their regular season next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Siena. Once again, the Red Foxes will be on milestone watch. Jordan Newblatt recorded 19 kills today, leaving her at 988 in her career. A 12-kill performance in Loudonville would make her the 11th Red Fox all-time to record 1000 kills.
Edited by Luke Sassa
Graphic by Ben Monrad; Photo from Kira Crutcher