Iona clinches third seed in MAAC Championship

Ryan McFadden , Sports Editor

The Iona College volleyball team fell to tears after defeating Marist in five sets at the Hynes Center on Nov. 11, clinching a spot in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament. The last time Iona was in the MAAC Championship was in 2014.

“It’s really exciting,” sophomore Tess Connolly said. “It’s great to see our seniors do it in a new culture for our team and our coaches were even excited. It brought tears to our eyes.”

Gaels’ (14-17, 11-7 MAAC) junior Claire Archibald continued her strong season, registering 15 kills, 13 digs, four blocks and three service aces. Freshman Jamie Smith tallied 13 kills while sophomore Tess Connolly and Mia Bonsignore each had 11 kills.

The match was back and forth as Iona took the first set followed by Marist winning the second. The Gaels won the third set 25-19 then Red Foxes answered back with a 25-21 victory in the fourth set. Iona closed things out with a 15-9 victory in the final set of the match.

The Gaels had an advantage in the assist column as they tallied 56 assists compared to Marist’s 46. Junior Emma Rose had a game-high 52 assists.

Iona closed out the regular season with a 3-1 victory over Siena at home on Nov. 12. The Gaels earned the third seed in the MAAC Championship after being projected to finish ninth in the MAAC Preseason Coaches Poll.

“When we saw it at the beginning of the season we were like, ‘wow, people really thought we were going to be that poorly,’” Connolly said. “It was sad to see that, but it made us work harder.”

Iona is slated to take on Quinnipiac, who finished the season sixth in the conference, in the first round of the MAAC Championship.

Fairfield (22-6, 17-0 MAAC), the MAAC Regular Season Champions, is the first seed and Niagara holds onto the second spot.

The first round of the tournament will be a three-day event and take place at Fairfield University on Nov. 17. Iona will play the Bobcats at 5 p.m.