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Quinnipiac tops Marist, 3-2, in MAAC thriller


Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics

By: John Franklin

Kat Miller blasted a ball through the heart of the Marist defense to bring a capacity crowd to its feet at Burt Kahn Court on Saturday.

“Without a doubt this was the most important win to date,” Quinnipiac Head Coach Chris Czaplinski said. “Every win going forward is the most important win, but this one was huge.  Marist is so talented, and we’ve never beaten them before. Another record is broken right there.”

The atmosphere at Burt Kahn Court was palpable as the Red Foxes played the Bobcats to an incredible five set match. The crowd was in full throat for a matchup for second place in the MAAC, and it brought all of the fanfare of an instant classic.

“Our crowd is hands down the best in the conference,” Czaplinski said through a smile. “You can’t ask for anything more than them. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Errors were the story for the Bobcats in set one as they only had eight kills to seven attack errors. Marist outside hitter Megan Fergus lead the charge with five kills in the first set for the Red Foxes.

“It was tough there in that first set,” junior outside hitter Elizabeth Kloos said. “We came out with low energy. It was a close game so we knew they weren’t better than us. It was helpful going into the next game knowing it was our errors that got them the win.”

The second set spelled a different story for the Bobcats. They played a much cleaner second set having 16 kills to their five errors, but the second stanza meant history for one Quinnipiac player in particular. Sophomore Claire Knust missed all of last season with a concussion, but made her highly anticipated debut in set number two.  

The Omaha, Nebraska native shined in her first game as a Bobcat. She notched five kills, tying sophomore counterpart Jen Coffey for the team high in the set.  

“It was unbelievably easy to get there with this team,” Knust said. “The energy and the intensity was just unbelievable. I’m so excited to be back with them.”

The drama continued into set three as the Bobcats were just a point away from winning back to back sets. Marist took a timeout down 24-21, and proceeded to go on a 7-2 run to close out the third game, rendering the Bobcat faithful silent.

“We just had to refocus. That’s it,” Czaplinski noted. “Sometimes we forget to do the simple things.  We had to communicate a little better than we did. We had to go point by point and take on the task at hand.”

Quinnipiac did just that as it would take the fourth set 25-20 on the back of Kloos, Coffey, and Knust who combined for 13 kills for the Bobcats. As the set continued the crowd went from tame to thunderous realizing that the team was one set away from being second place outright in the MAAC.

“The crowd was awesome,” Elizabeth Kloos said. “It helped going into the last set when we were down a couple points, and they really got us going.”

The final set came down to a win by two situation. The Bobcats found themselves in a situation reminiscent of set three when the Bobcats lost five straight points, but this was a different tale of the tape. Quinnipiac watch an errant Marist serve go out of bounds, leaving it one point away from the win.

In the final play Marist sent a free ball over the net to Cody Michaels, who passed to freshman setter Maria Pansari, who then passed to Kat Miller. Miller delivered a thunderous kill causing the Quinnipiac crowd to rush the court.

Czaplinski had only one word to describe what he felt when Miller’s kill hit the floor.

“Joy.  This team worked so hard, and they deserved this win,” Czaplinski said.

The Bobcats find themselves in second place in the MAAC after this historic win. They take on the Siena Saints at home tomorrow in a key matchup.

For Czaplinski’s team the future is very bright. With the addition of Knust to the starting lineup the Bobcats can look at the future and set their sights on a deep playoff run.
“We are a very young team,” Czaplinski said. “It’s scary what this team is capable of doing.  We gotta get back to practice and focus on the fundamentals. If we can do that the sky’s the limit for this team.”

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