Siena Volleyball swept #4 Rider 3-0 on Friday night to advance to the MAAC Semifinal match. The Saints face #1 Fairfield at 2 p.m.
Just like with Rider, Siena has fallen to the Stags twice this season. Fairfield took the first meeting 3-1 in Loudonville, New York before sweeping the Saints 3-0 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Fairfield and Siena have met in the MAAC Tournament 14 times, but have not seen each other since 2012 when Fairfield knocked Siena out of the tournament in five sets.
Siena enters the tournament winning seven of their last eight. The Saints look for a full team effort to take down Fairfield and move onto the Championship. This squad is not new to the tournament and not new to a championship. This is the third straight tournament berth for the Saints, while they also won the championship in 2014. Six of the seven seniors were on the team for that victory and know what it will take to bring the trophy back to the Capital Region.
"It helps a lot, once you get there you will already experience what is going to happen so that is some kind of advantage," head coach Garvey Pierre stated. "I believe that those who have been there are going to help and that will be carried over."
Briana Flagg continues to lead the Siena offense averaging 3.58 kills per set. Flagg earned All-MAAC First Team honors for her efforts throughout the season. Kalehua Katagiri not only leads Siena, but leads the MAAC in both digs (531) and digs per set (5.11). Katagiri is a key to the Saints defense, but she also has Bobbi Lin Kalama and Howell who both average 2.70 and 2.23 digs per set, respectively. It may not be a statistic, but teams need to watch out when Kalama gets behind the line to serve because the Saints seem to be fueled by Kalama's serve and have taken the lead in many sets during that time. Howell has dished out 973 assists this season, third best in the conference. Brittney Herrick has 73 total blocks for Siena and is 10th in the MAAC in blocks per set with 0.77, while Samantha Pethokoukis's 59 total blocks which she averaged 0.89 blocks per set is fifth best in the league.
Fairfield enters the tournament as the number one seed. The Stags are undefeated in conference play (18-0) and have only dropped nine sets against conference foes. Fairfield earned a first round bye as the number one seed. The Stags are just the second team to ever accomplish an 18-0 MAAC record. Fairfield's 3-1 win over Quinnipiac on November 12 extended the nation's longest active winning streak to 20 matches. The Stags are led by Skylar Day who was named the 2016 MAAC Player of the Year. Day leads the MAAC with 4.25 kills per set. Megan O'Sullivan joined her teammate on the First Team All-MAAC. O'Sullivan has recorded 2.28 kills per set while ranking second in the MAAC with a .322 attack percentage.
The winner of this match will advance to the 2016 MAAC Championship where they will face the winner of the #3 Quinnipiac vs. #2 Marist match that will take place at 5 p.m.