Volleyball to face Niagara in final game of season Sunday

Juliana Nikac and Bryan Murphy

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Photo: Samantha Bashaw

Photo: Samantha Bashaw

The Quinnipiac volleyball team (10-20 overall, 9-8 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) will look to end their season on a high note before going into the MAAC playoffs, as they will face the Niagara University Purple Eagles (17-9 overall, 13-4 MAAC) in each team’s season finale. After defeating Canisius Saturday afternoon, the Bobcats secured themselves a spot in the MAAC tournament. Where they are seeded will depend on the outcome of their game against Niagara. The Purple Eagles come into the game with the second seed in the MAAC conference and have a first round bye in the beginning of the playoffs secured.

Players to Watch

Quinnipiac – Natalie Alechko (Sophomore Outside Hitter)

With injuries plaguing the Bobcats and a playoff berth seeming to be slipping out of the hands of Quinnipiac, it has been Alechko that has stepped up huge. She has had more than 10 kills in each of her last six games, which has resulted in four Bobcat victories. Her 19 kills in their game against Canisius propelled the Bobcats to a victory and a ticket for the MAAC tourney. The sophomore is fifth in the MAAC in kills (309) and also fifth in the MAAC for total points per set (3.33). She has been a leader for this team and expect her to close out the season and prep for playoffs in her normal, dominant fashion.

Niagara – Rylee Hunt (Senior Libero)

This stand-out senior has been living up to her hype. The 2015 MAAC Libero of the Year is continuing her dominance in the backrow of the Niagara court. She sits far ahead of other contenders for first place in total digs (605) and digs per set (6.17). Hunt comes in having gotten 32, 31, and 22 digs in her last three games, which also earned her an eighth MAAC Libero of the Week award for this year. Expect for Hunt to lead the defense for the Purple Eagles.

Keys to the Game

Quinnipiac – Use Your Assets

The Quinnipiac offense can be inconsistent at times, as it will dominate in one set, then go quiet in the next. The key is for setter Maria Pansari to figure out who has the hot hand and roll with them. Throughout the season, we’ve seen it change between Alechko, Kaleigh Oates, Kat Miller, or Morgan Sherwin. Whoever is getting their hits down and is the most effective, needs to be getting the ball.

Niagara – Defense, Defense, Defense

The defense will need to set the tone for the game for Niagara. And that is pretty easy to do when you have arguably the best libero in the MAAC conference on your side of the court. Led by Rylee Hunt, the Purple Eagles defense needs to shut down the Bobcats weapons like Alechko, Miller, and Oates. If the defense can stifle the offense of Quinnipiac, it will allow Niagara hitters like Nicole Matheis and Jaycie Roberts to get more opportunities to put the ball down.

The Game

Make sure to tune into the broadcast of the game between Quinnipiac and Niagara from the Burt Kahn Court at 1 p.m. Sunday. On the call will be Mike Dalton and Bryan Murphy. To receive updates on the game, follow @QBSN on Twitter, as well as @MikeJDalton5 and @bryan_murphy10.