Bobcats face Purple Eagles in regular season finale, win 3-0


Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

Mike Dalton, Volleyball Beat Reporter

Looking to end the regular season on a high note, the Quinnipiac and Niagara volleyball teams took to the hardwood at Burt Kahn Court in Hamden, Conn.

The Bobcats were looking for their first regular-season win against the Purple Eagles since joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in 2013, while the Purple Eagles were trying to avoid a three match losing streak.

Quinnipiac, who was swept by Canisius the prior match, struggled to get its middle hitters established.

“We noticed that (Niagara) couldn’t stop anything we were doing in the middle,” Quinnipiac volleyball head coach Kris Czaplinski said. “That was part of our game plan coming into this and it will be when we face them in Disney. To make sure that we’re utilizing our middles and putting them in the rights spots to help this team.”

The Bobcats got freshman middle hitter Lydia Jones going early offensively. Jones lead the team in kills through the first set with seven en route to a 25-21 win.

“I definitely think my offense has gotten better,” Jones said. “Both (Czaplinski and Chad Davis) have been working with me on my wrist snap and knowing which zone to swing to.”

The second set ended again with the Bobcats winning 25-21 to take a 2-0 lead heading into the third set. Jones increased her kill total to a dozen, but it was Kat Miller who stole the show.

Up 18-14, the Bobcats received a serve from the Purple Eagles. Miller got the first touch, then junior setter Maria Pansari set Miller up for an attack at mid court.

Miller went up high and came down hard with the ball landing on the near side back line of the court for her 1,000th career kill.

She’s the first Bobcat to reach this milestone since Heather Wollyung did back in 2003. Several plays later, Quinnipiac Athletics informed the crowd over the PA system that Miller had just notched her 1,000th career kill which resulted in about a 30 second standing ovation.

“I knew going into the game that I only had eight (kills) left,” Miller said. “I wasn’t really focused on that, but it was really cool to hear that (announcement).”

Miller added six more kills in the third set to help the Bobcats beat the Purple Eagles 28-26 and take the match 3-0.

The Bobcats finish the seventh in the regular season with a 8-20 record (7-11 MAAC) despite being picked to finish fourth in the MAAC preseason coaches poll.

“We learned a lot about the way that we play and how we need to change things in the future,” Czaplinski said. “It’s just a matter of if we can get the right energy and the right six on the floor with the same purpose. If we can do that, we’re an unbeatable team.”

The Bobcats will play the Purple Eagles in the opening round of the MAAC Tournament on Thursday Nov. 15.

In 2016, the Bobcats got their first MAAC Playoff win against the Purple Eagles, winning in five sets.