It was an early-season heavyweight contest Saturday in Draddy Gymnasium, as the second place Manhattan Jaspers (10-9, 4-2 MAAC) faced off against the first place Rider Broncs (12-9, 7-0 MAAC).
The match lived up to its billing, going five sets, and being closely contested all throughout.
The first four sets were split between the teams, with Manhattan taking the first set 25-16, Rider taking the second and third set 25-20 and 25-23 respectively, and Manhattan winning the fourth set 25-18.
The final set proved to be a microcosm of the match, as both teams exchanged points and battled closely.
With the set in favor of the Broncs at 11-10, a rally developed that featured more than five attacks for both teams. The Jaspers scored to tie the set at 11 off an attack error by the Broncs, and it seemed as if the momentum swung completely over to the Jaspers’ side.
They would score the next point as well to go up 12-11, but Rider maintained its composure and went on a 4-1 run to win the set 15-13 and the match 3-2.
With the match tied at 13 in the fifth set, Rider called a timeout and regrouped, scoring the final two points of the set to win the match 3-2. The final point was back and forth with a long rally that culminated in a Ryan Ackerman kill for the Broncs. The ball seemed like it would go out of play, but it just stayed in bounds by about three inches, ending the match.
What They Said
“The difference in the match I felt was a little bit more blocking on their part,” Mark Jones, Manhattan’s head coach said about what was the reason why his team lost the match. “All our errors were blocks. We were aggressive, but we were just getting blocked. That’s where all the errors came from, and we just have to do a better job. We can challenge the block, but we can’t go through it.”
“I think for us, unfortunately we made some weird plays during the match,” Jones said about Manhattan’s mistakes. “Too many ball-handling errors at the wrong time or we missed a serve at the wrong time. It was just a couple plays here and there we could’ve done I think a little bit better job of controlling our destiny in the match.”
“I think for the first time all year it felt right on the court,” Van Dyk said about how the Jaspers felt during the close match. “I think that’s a great point to be at right now. You have so many games in our conference so we’re hitting the stride at the right time.”
“I think it’s encouraging how we played,” Van Dyk said about the team’s performance. “We didn’t take any plays off and everyone gave 100 percent. It felt good. I think that’s the most important part.”
“Every player has a really good serve,” Jones said about why his team is leading the nation in service aces. “I think that’s something that we work in. It’s something that we know has to be our focus. Our goal is to take every team out of their offense and out of system, so if we can serve tough then I think we have a chance in every play. That helps us stay in the game and we can play better defense.”
“Personally, I’ve had a slower start, so hopefully this will start kind of getting me going again and get to where I was last year and better,” Van Dyk said about her double-double performance, which included a season-high 28 digs.”
Rider out blocked Manhattan 11-8.
The Jaspers had a season-high 110 digs.
The Jaspers notched eight more service aces to continue to lead the nation in the category.
Claire Van Dyk: Three service aces and a double-double with 19 kills and a season-high 28 digs.
Milena Janjusevic: Double-double with 19 kills and a season-high 23 digs.
Jade Gray: Double-double with 12 digs and a season-high 52 assists.