Quinnipiac Volleyball Goes Winless at Yale Invitational Tournament


Eric Kerr

Weekend wrap by Gage Kilborne

Story by Eric Kerr

This weekend’s results of the Yale Invitational did not go as planned for Quinnipiac volleyball.

All three matches against Syracuse, Hartford, and Yale resulted in losses, with Quinnipiac failing to win a single set in two of the three. After taking down Holy Cross in a five-set match to kick off the new season, the Bobcats are now on a five-game skid.

Looking at each of the three contests this weekend, Quinnipiac can look to build on one thing from each game to snap the cold streak.

Game 1 vs. Syracuse – Winning the Serve Battle 

Serve receive is one part of volleyball that can be underappreciated by the average fan, but one that can decide a match’s outcome. This stat was one thing that Quinnipiac did not handle well against Syracuse.

The Orange dominated the service ace battle, totaling 13 aces in the match in comparison to the Bobcats’ two. Six Syracuse players had more than one ace, including a game-leading three service aces from Elena Karakasi.

13 may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the day, it is still 13 opportunities that are taken away from the Bobcats to run their offense to create points. No Quinnipiac player had more than six kills in the match (Maggie Baker and Aryanah Diaz) while Syracuse had two double-digit kill performances from Polina Shemanova (15) and Marina Markova (13).

Height can certainly help with the offensive attack. Syracuse’s roster features a 6’5” Markova hitting from the outside and 10 other players over 6’0” tall, while Quinnipiac’s tallest hitter, Nicole Legg, is 6’3” and is accompanied by just three other players taller than 6’0.”

Quinnipiac head coach Kyle Robinson says going against the size differential will make his team stronger for the bigger challenges ahead.

“They’ll learn you up really quick,” Robinson said. “We’ve got to mature and get used to the speed, aggression, and the chaos of playing a tough team.”

One thing Quinnipiac can control against teams like Syracuse is the serve receive. If the aces battle continues to be lopsided, then it could present a problem going forward.

Game 2 vs. Hartford– Finish Sets 

Hartford was the toughest loss for Quinnipiac to take.

It was the closest match for the Bobcats in the entire tournament, where a loss in five sets was decided by a coach’s challenge. A successful Hawks challenge that changed the ruling of an attack from out to a Bobcat touch gave Hartford its 15th point in set five, and the victory.

Robinson believes consistency is key to avoid an outcome being decided by the officials.

“We’re trying to find that combination of athletes that will get our motor running,” Robinson said. “Once that combination is running, I think we’re pretty good.”

Quinnipiac had to battle back from being down two sets to one to force a fifth set. However, that situation could have been reversed if the team did what they needed to do to close out the first set.

The Bobcats were just two points away from closing out the opening set, leading 23-21, but a couple of Hartford kills and an Olga Zampati attacking error put the Hawks out in front 24-23.

Sudden death was drawn after Quinnipiac tied the score at 24, but the race to a two-point set lead was won by Hartford, 27-25.

While Quinnipiac redeemed themselves in set four with a 14-2 run that propelled them to their greatest margin of victory in the tournament (25-16), they could not keep this consistency in the decisive set.

Once again, the Bobcats had a two-point lead with just two points to in the fifth set and could not secure the win. The Hawks poured in four straight points, where two of those points featured a Diaz attack error and a service ace from Faavae Kimsel Moe.

Robinson hopes that this type of loss can be used as motivation for the team, to not let it happen again.

“I hope the girls decided to let it fester away and eat at them…. and have a defining feeling that they never want to have that again.”

Game 3 vs. Yale – Defensive Positioning 

The Bulldogs made quick work of the Bobcats on Saturday, extending their record to 6-0 all-time in volleyball’s version of the “Battle of Whitney Avenue.”

Holes in the Quinnipiac blocks, players standing out of position on serve receives, and defending opponent attacks led to a greater number of blocks, aces, and digs for Yale. The stronger defense made it easier for the Bulldogs to run more attacks within the flow of their system.

A plethora of quick middle attacks and shoots from the outside and right side led to domination in kills (49-26) and hitting percentage (.325-.115), all set up by the strong defense. Quinnipiac could not find that same rhythm.

Robinson addressed the issue, saying that they will work on their defensive play right away at the start of their next practice.

“Defense is at the top of the list…we definitely have to pick up more balls in the backcourt.”

With the start of MAAC volleyball right around the corner on Sep. 18 against Saint Peter’s, playing against stronger, tougher, and scrappier opponents will only help turn their losses into lessons.

“The understanding for us when we play tough competition in our conference is to prepare us… to battle against people who are going to really challenge us and then be prepared to win our conference,” Robinson said.

Quinnipiac will have just a few more games to prepare, as they make the trip to Maryland next week to play their final non-conference invitational tournament at UMBC.