There are times when teams get off to a hot start in a season, but as is the case with most of those teams, there comes a point where they play a game that serves as a wakeup call.
The Manhattan Jaspers reached that point in its season when it hosted the Marist Red Foxes on Sept. 27.
The matchup provided the Jaspers, who came into the match sitting in second place in the MAAC standings, with an early-season opportunity to gauge their level, as they were taking on the 11-2, first place Red Foxes.
However, the Jaspers received a rude awakening, as they were defeated in straight sets – 18-25, 21-25, and 18-25 – by the Red Foxes. The defeat marks the first MAAC regular season loss for the Jaspers this year.
Still early in the season, Jaspers head coach Mark Jones believes this wakeup call can still serve a good purpose for the team.
“I think it’s what we get out of it [the game],” Jones said about the loss. “If we learn from it then we’re fine and if we don’t learn from it, then we’re not getting what we need out of it.”
There weren’t many positives for the team to take out of the match as it lost the battle in every major category other than digs, which it won 47-46, and only led once in the entire game.
Claire Van Dyk, who had a key singular performance, saw individuality as the root of the team’s struggles against Marist.
“I think we need more of just playing as a team,” she said. “We need to come together more as a team and if someone makes an error, it’s an error. It happens. That’s the game. You’re going to have errors, but we need to play more as a team.”
From the outset of the match it was apparent what kind of a juggernaut the Jaspers had in front of them, as Marist got off to a quick 4-0 lead.
A Sydney Volovski kill would finally get Manhattan on the board and settle things down a bit for the Jaspers.
The next two-dozen points were closely contested and the match would reach its first deadlock at 16.
However, a Marisa Gilbert kill ignited a 9-2 run for Marist who would win the first set 25-18.
The second set would prove to be an offensive showcase as both teams kept their attack errors below five and ended up with impressive hitting percentages. The Jaspers wound up with a .323 mark, but were topped off by Marist’s .400 mark.
The set started off with Marist taking the lead again and Manhattan having to play catch up.
With the score 22-16 in favor of the Red Foxes, Manhattan would go on to score five of the next six points to cut the lead to two, 23-21, and force Marist to take a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Red Foxes killed Manhattan’s rally and scored the next two points to win the second set 25-21.
In a pivotal third set, Manhattan would hold its only lead of the entire match at 2-1. However, Marist would regain the lead and never look back.
The closest the score would get was 18-16 with Marist on top, but a Gilbert kill sparked a 7-2 run that would give Marist a 25-18 third set victory, and consequently, a 3-0 match victory.
“I think it was our approach to the game,” Jones said about what went wrong in the defeat. “I think we had a good game plan. I just don’t think we executed as a team.”
The Jaspers were led by Van Dyk who nearly had a double-double with nine kills and 11 digs. Malia McGuinness also contributed with six kills and a team-high 15 digs, while Teodora Peric led the team dishing out 29 assists.
Manhattan got the wakeup call it needed early in its campaign, now it has close to two months left in the season to capitalize on it.
“I think there’s some things we need to work on, but Marist is a good team,” Jones said. “They’re probably right now the best team in the conference.”