Claire Archibald discusses Iona career, upcoming MAACs

Ryan McFadden, Sports Editor

It was Senior Day and outside hitter Claire Archibald was surrounded by friends and family after she helped the Gaels win a 3-1 victory over Siena to close out the regular season on Nov. 11.

Archibald – who has established herself as one of the top volleyball players in the program’s history – had nothing but a huge grin on her face, seeing the enormous amount of support from the people close to her, and the school that’s helped her grow over the last four years.

“[Iona] has really grown and developed me as a person,” Archibald said. “It has given a good visualization at what hard work can do and what occurs when you put out that positive energy and show what you are capable of. It has pushed me past any limit I thought I could exceed. It also made me a stronger and tougher person from a mental standpoint. I feel I have all around become a better person.”

For Archibald, that moment and the idea of playing in her final season at Iona has been on her mind before the start of preseason. It has fueled her mentality to play her hardest no matter what.

“I thought about it a lot before we set foot on the court before preseason,” Archibald said. “I really wanted make sure that every single game – no matter the circumstances – that I gave it everything I had.”

Archibald has definitely given it her all this season, leading the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in kills with 358 and becoming the second player in Iona volleyball history to surpass 1,500 kills in her career.

Archibald’s performance throughout the regular season is one of the reasons why Iona ended with a 15-2 conference record and was named outright MAAC Regular Season Champions for the first time in school history.

Archibald and her teammates are happy about their historic accomplishments, but they are more focused on winning a conference championship.

“We have a lot of unfinished business, and as great as it is, we are not going to celebrate until it’s completely over,” Archibald said. “That’s one thing everyone completely agrees on. It’s cool that we could possibly create Iona history, but we still got a lot to do.”

Archibald believes a big part to the Gaels’ success this season has to do with the bond her teammates share, and how well they understand each other.

“I can truly say that every single person truly enjoys each other’s company,” Archibald said. “And I think that’s a really rare find. We genuinely are best friends. We understand how each other is feeling, and we have a really good way at communicating with each other and understanding what works for one another.”

Throughout Archibald’s time playing volleyball, Iona has given her a team that makes her feel like she’s a part of a family.

“We are a family and a tight-knit group,” Archibald said. “I’m very blessed to experience a group like this, because I’ve never been on a team so close and excited for what’s next.”

Iona will play in the MAAC Championship tournament on Nov. 16 at the HP Field House in Walt Disney World. Despite being the best team in the conference, the Gaels still carry the underdog mentality and try to keep a humble approach.

“Our theme last season was ‘little dogs gotta eat,’” Archibald said. “We still view ourselves as little dogs. We are very humbled and appreciative of all the success we’ve had, but we have so much work to do. Until we get a ring and banner in the gym, we are not going to say we have done anything yet.”