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Volleyball winless in opening weekend

Strong core and new players are primed to improve team performance this season

The volleyball team kicked off the season at the Holly Young Invitational this past weekend at the University of New Hampshire. It was a tough weekend for the Bears (0-3, 0-0 Ivy), who were hit hard with three losses in two days. The Bears were topped 3-2 by UNH Friday night and saw two 3-0 losses Saturday to Missouri State and Saint John’s.

The Bears came out strong against the Wildcats (4-3), winning the first two sets 25-19 each. After the home squad took control from the opening serve in set three, Bruno could not regain her initial momentum and UNH won the next three sets 25-22, 25-19 and 15-8.

The team led off Saturday’s games with a match against Missouri State (6-1). The midwest Bears were a force to be reckoned with and downed Bruno in three straight sets 25-23, 25-20 and 25-17.

St. John’s (4-3) handed Bruno her third defeat of the weekend after dominating the first three sets — 25-11, 25-14 and 25-15.

Alexandra Rieckhoff ’14 was named to the All-Tournament team after leading the team with 29 kills and 25 digs in the three matches.

Despite the rough first weekend, the Bears are optimistic for the rest of the season.

“The teams we played in this tournament had already played in two or three games, while these were the first games of our season,” said Rieckhoff.

Captain Amanda Nickel ’14 identified communication and mental resilience as areas that need some “tweaking.”

“We learned our weaknesses from playing other teams but know they are all things we can work out,” she said.

Nickel and Rieckhoff both called it a “learning weekend” but said they are confident the little mistakes will be fixed moving forward.

“Everyone plays different in games than they do in practice, like who’s naturally more aggressive or timid,” Rieckhoff said. “Learning our roles on the court will be key.”

Nickel said the Bears gained two first-years, Payton Smith ’17 and Sarah Lucenti ’17, “who are definitely going to be key.”

Nickel and Maddie Lord ’15 are returning as the top two hitters, along with leading blocker Taylor Bantle ’15, setter Rieckhoff and All-Ivy libero Kathryn Conner ’15.

With a “mature and experienced” starting lineup and two talented first-years, Nickel said this will be the extra push the Bears need to close out wins.

“We lost close matches a lot last season but we really think we have improved enough to win those close matches this season,” she said.

The Bears return to play Wednesday at Providence College in an inter-city matchup.


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