Preview: Volleyball looks to continue dominance vs Fairleigh Dickinson and Long Island

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Preview: Volleyball looks to continue dominance vs Fairleigh Dickinson and Long Island

Austin Bechtold, Contributor

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MOON TOWNSHIP– After another convincing home victory, the Robert Morris volleyball team (14-3, 4-0 NEC) looks to add to their undefeated conference record with home games against the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (1-17, 0-4 NEC) and Long Island Sharks (4-11, 3-0 NEC). RMU swept St. Francis (1-15, 1-3 NEC) at home Wednesday night to tip-off a three-game homestand. The Colonials will take on Fairleigh Dickinson Friday at 7 p.m. and Long Island on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Recapping RMU

The Colonials currently sit atop the NEC standings going into the weekend and will look to continue their recent dominance. RMU has the best record of all-conference teams, with no other having an overall record above .500. The team brings in a 6-0 home record, proving the UPMC Events Center has a true home-court advantage in its first season. With two games this weekend, the Colonials can take sole possession of first place and widen their lead on the rest of the competition.

Previewing Fairleigh Dickinson

The Knights struggled to get anything going in non-conference play and those struggles have continued as they started NEC play. Fairleigh Dickinson enters on a two-game losing streak and has not won a conference game in four attempts. They have been swept 12 times so far in 2019, losing games that they had little chance to win and became lopsided. If the Knights are going to find the win column for only the second time, they will need to set the tone early against a strong RMU attack.

Scouting Long Island

Long Island has started the NEC schedule strong in 2019, winning their first three matches. The NEC’s only other undefeated team in conference play, the Sharks will face a tough road test Saturday afternoon to prove whether or not they are for real. LIU is 4-12 overall on the season, if they wish to prove doubters who witnessed their non-conference play wrong, they will need a big win at RMU to do so.

Players to Watch

Whitney Brown (RMU)

RMU’s junior setter has been dynamite for the Colonials all season long and she recorded her second NEC Player of the Week honor for her contributions. She has recorded 534 assists and will be a major part of RMU’s offensive attack over the weekend to help lead the Colonials to great heights.

Emma Granger (Robert Morris)

Granger has been the driving force for the Colonials 2019 season, being named NEC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time. It is not possible to state what she has meant to the team and provides a major impact every time she steps out onto the court for the Colonials.

Mujay Mambu (Fairleigh Dickinson)

The freshman Mambu has been a nice surprise and key contributor to the Knights offense. She leads the team with 137 kills but shows her youth with the most errors at 74. Mambu will be a player to look for throughout the match at Robert Morris and the rest of the season.

Magdalena Maksimovic (Fairleigh Dickinson)

Maksimovic, a junior outside hitter from Serbia, has recorded one less kill than Mambu but has been a better all-around player. She has recorded five aces and 36 digs and must play an influential veteran role if the Knights have any chance to pull off the upset.

Natalia Rivera (Long Island)

The 5’4’’ senior libero will be a key factor in LIU’s hopes for a critical early road win. In 2018, Rivera earned All-NEC First Team libero and was named NEC and ECAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Kora Schaberl (Long Island)

This senior 6’0’’ outside hitter from Graz, Australia, recorded 12 service aces last season. She finished third on the team with 159 kills in 2018 and will be an important contributor to the Sharks offense.

Prediction

The Colonials continue their success at home and defeat Fairleigh Dickinson fairly easily. Long Island will be a more compelling and difficult match, but the RMU offense will provide too much for the Sharks to handle. RMU will be able to continue their dominance, beating Fairleigh Dickinson in three sets and Long Island in four sets.

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