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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Volleyball finds rhythm after in-conference play opens up

Mackenzie+Wiggins+posted+a+career-best+.480+hitting+percentage+against+Saint+Peters.
Photo courtesy of ionagaels.com
Mackenzie Wiggins posted a career-best .480 hitting percentage against Saint Peter’s.

The Iona University volleyball team had a rough start to begin their 2023 season. However, since recently starting Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, things are starting to look up for the Gaels. 

 

The 2023 Iona Volleyball Tournament was held at the Hynes Athletic Center on Sept. 7-9. The Gaels began the tournament on Thursday with three hard fought sets against Fordham University but fell to the Rams 3-0.  

 

Senior Hope Matschner held down the defense with a match-high 23 digs and a perfect 23-23 on serve receptions. Redshirt sophomore Mackenzie Wiggins led the offense with 11 kills. 

 

On Friday, the Gaels faced Boston College looking to bounce back from the previous day, but despite a close three sets, Iona fell 3-0. Matschner recorded another match-high of 23 digs and senior Jen Soto led the offense with six kills. Senior setter Tamara Pichardo had a team-best 16 assists and added two aces.  

 

The Gaels turned the page against Long Island University on Sunday, determined to come out of the weekend with a win. The team did just that, defeating the Sharks 3-1, while seeing multiple Gaels reach personal bests. 

 

Wiggins came out swinging as she crushed her previous career-best effort with 26 kills, while also completing a double-double with 12 digs. Graduate setter Samantha Juran matched her own career-high in assists with 44. She also added another career-best with six aces. Once again, Matschner led the defense with 34 digs and a perfect 25-25 on serve receptions. 

 

Matschner’s outstanding performance all weekend earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team and MAAC Libero of the Week. 

 

The Gaels had one last game to prepare for MAAC play as they faced Fairleigh Dickinson University on Sept. 12, defeating them 3-0. 

 

The Hynes Athletic Center was a sea of Maroon and Gold on Saturday, Sept. 16, as the Gaels opened MAAC play against Rider University. The Gaels came out hot taking the first set with a score of 25-18 but losing a hard fought second set, 27-25. This loss fueled the fire as the Gaels took the next two sets, 25-23 and 28-26. 

 

Multiple Gaels contributed to the dominant offense. Freshman middle blocker Ezzie Thompson set two season-bests with 16 kills and a .481 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Greta Stjade also recorded a season-high of 13 kills. Soto and Wiggins put up nine kills each and Juran recorded her 100th career ace during the second set. 

 

The match against Rider was also the Gaels’ health-and-wellness game. During the game, they brought awareness to heart health and accepted donations that were sent to the American Heart Association. 

 

The Gaels capped off the weekend with another MAAC win as they defeated St. Peter’s University in three sets, increasing their win streak to four. Freshman middle blocker Buse Tinaz matched her season-best of six kills and a team-high of three blocks to help the Gaels take down the Peacocks.  

 

Iona will travel to Buffalo, New York to face Niagara University and Canisius College for two more MAAC matchups from Sept. 23-24. 

 

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