Colonials NEC playoff hopes suffer after loss to Bryant


Photo credit: David Auth

Dalton Link, Contributor

MOON TOWNSHIP— The Robert Morris University Colonials (8-14, 2-5) took on the Bryant University Bulldogs (15-9, 5-2) in a dramatic NEC showdown at the North Athletic Complex that needed all five sets to determine the outcome. This is the second time these two teams have met this year, with the Bulldogs coming out in the last contest in five sets 3-2, much like this one.

The match started out strong in favor of the Colonials as they jumped out to a 7-1 lead early in the first set. The Bulldogs came close to catching up as they fought back and forth but never tied them as RMU did not look back from their fast start and finished with a 25-23 first set win.

The second set started a little differently as there were five total lead changes before either team had even reached 10 points. RMU seemed to have their way toward the latter half of this set, taking a 21-17 lead, but after a Bryant timeout, the Colonials were held to just one point while Bryant scored four straight winning 25-23.

The level of play between the two clubs seemed to be dead even after the first two sets. Both teams were making the right moves and covering for each other as everyone was leaving it all out on the court.

The third set saw RMU seemingly starting to slow down or get worn out because Bryant was able to jump out to a 12-7 lead. After an RMU timeout, they scored four straight pulling within one and keeping it close. They exchanged one or two points from there all the way up til the Colonials had a 22-21 advantage. Bryant fended off the comeback though and won 26-24

Bryant’s Julia Flynn had six kills in the third set, two of which came on the very last two points to win the set. On the opposing end, Taylor Lord was held to just one kill in the third set after having five in each of the first two.

RMU was on their heels early in the fourth set as Bryant jumped out to a 7-1 lead giving RMU a taste of what they dealt with in the first set. The Colonials elevated their level of play and started stringing points together before finally tying the game back up on a kill from none other than Taylor Lord.

There was another exchanging of points before RMU found themselves up 22-19 and Bryant was faced with yet another late-stage deficit and was looking to overcome this yet again and close out the match. The Colonials had other plans and held their ground and were able to pull out a 26-24 win to send it into the fifth set.

Taylor Lord blames herself for the team going down in the early stages of the sets stating, “I can’t take credit for the comeback, that wasn’t on me.” Lord then continued, “I kind of feel that I was the reason we were in that hole, but my teammates looking at me and telling me ‘you’ll get the next one’ instead of blaming or pointing fingers is what contributed to the comeback, just being able to work as a team.”

Lord’s quote also stems off of the start of the fifth and final set that saw RMU trail 5-0 off the start which forced head coach Dale Starr to take a timeout. When asked about what was said during that huddle, coach Starr replied, “I tell them something’s gotta change. We’re playing too conservatively and trying to be too fine with our shots which is why we’re down 5-0, and if something doesn’t change we’ll be down 15-0.”

The coach’s speech seemed to take some effect on his players as RMU drew closer and closer, and it was a challenge on a called out ball that was overturned that tied the set up at 13. RMU found themselves with a 15-14 lead a few serves later with a chance to win the match. Unfortunately for the Colonials, Bryant would tie up the game and eventually go on to win the set 18-16.

Coach Starr also said after the game, “A lot of people stepped up. Taylor stepped up, Alyson stepped up, (everyone) showed a lot of heart and left it all out there, I cannot be mad at the level of effort they played at.”

When asked about the rest of the season, Taylor said, “We still have five games to play, we are not going to quit. Not likely we make the tournament with our conference record this year, but we still will continue to put the effort into getting more wins to end the season.”

Looking forward in the season and finishing strong is what RMU will look to do, and that short journey will start next Friday (Oct. 26) at St. Francis Brooklyn (6-16, 2-6). The two teams met at the North Athletic Complex for RMU’s homecoming game, in which RMU won 3-1.