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Improved Raiders set to have a much different season

Photo courtesy of Rivier University Issaiah Chappell has given Rivier University fans something to watch in the first couple of games this season.

NASHUA – There’s a different feel around the Rivier University men’s basketball team these days.

Yes, as the Raider athletic program says good-bye to the fall season and hello to winter, it began by seeing an electric offensive player of their own, Issaiah Chappell, a six-foot senior from Sunapee who transferred into Riv nearly two years ago and has, after a year in the program, bloomed into a scorer.

He had 38 points in the opener, a 76-72 loss to Curry, and 24 in a 73-62 win over Lesley – on 8 for 10 shooting. The Raiders were slated to play a tough non conference opponent in Brandeis.

“Issaiah is a gifted scorer,” Raiders coach Lance Bisson said. ” In the last year, his game has been refined.

“Somebody said the other night it’s like he’s playing H-O-R-S-E. He can score from a lot of different angles on the floor. The thing is, now everybody is going to know that.”

But Bisson isn’t too worried. Why? He feels like he has a full roster that can fill in a lot of blanks this year.

“This is our first year with seniors (four, including Milford’s Josh O’Laughlin),” he said. “Now we have something that resembles a healthy program, with 16 healthy bodies. I like the makeup class by class.”

But besides Chappell, Bisson is still looking to some of the younger players to help his Raiders – including two talented freshman from Manchester, Conn.who came as a package deal, 6-4 Chance Eaton-Jones and 6-7 Nesta Roberts.

“He (Roberts) is going to be great,” Bisson said. “Right now, he’s pretty good. And Eaton-Jones is built like a football player.”

Bisson, himself a former point guard, likes the savvy of sophomore floor general Pharaoh Davis out of King Phillip/Plainville, Mass.

Here’s the way Bisson, whose teams the last couple of years have struggled to win as many as two to three games, sees it. The Raiders, he feels, are in the 7-9 cluster in the GNAC. To make the conference tourney, “We can’t afford to lose to the teams that are below us (in the standings).”

But either way, things are looking up at the Muldoon Center.

“This is my best team, by far,” he said.

Meanwhile, we’ll examine the Raider women’s team’s outlook in the next week or so as they have also begun,now at 1-2 after a 91-70 loss to Wentworth the other night.

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Once again, the highlight of the Rivier overall fall season – besides the opening of the magnificent Linda Robinson Pavilion – was the Raiders women’s volleyball team.

At the start of the season, Raiders coach Craig Kolek knew it would be a a tough chore to reach the GNAC finals with a shot at knocking off perrenial champion Johnson&Wales.

However, the Raiders did just that, rallying from down 2-0 to knock off favored and host Simmons, the second seed, in the semis.

Riv had dropped the first two sets 20-25 and 14-25 but took the next three, 25-19, a dramatic 26-24 and 15-11. It was a match Raiders coach Craig Kolek called “one of the most memorable playoff games in Rivier history.”

They finished 24-8 overall, lost 3-0 in the GNAC Finals to Johnson&Wales, but placed four on the All-GNAC team.

“It was a good season overall,” Kolek said. “The come-from-behind semifinal win over Simmons showed wha this team was made of and helped put us back in the GNAC Championship Match, which was our goal all season.”

As for the All-Conference team, seniors Taylor Dunster and Jess Whyte were named to the First Team. Dunster, who had a kill and ace to finish that fourth set vs. Simmons, had 312 kills and a team high 358 digs on the season. Whyte had 303 kills and 64 blocks.

Sophomores Avery Pollard and Sydney Racevicius were named to the Second and Third team, respectively.

Pollard totaled 1,008 assists and her average of 10.07 assists per set led the GNAC. Racevicius had 293 kills, 303 digs and 46 service aces.

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Here’s a look at what some other local athletes have been doing recently at their respective schools:

Nashua’s Amber Lee, who played locally for the Northern Cyclones junior team, is having a good start to her college career at Becker College. The freshman helped the Hawks to their first Colonial Hockey Conference win and was has been named the CHC Rookie of the Week for the week ending on Nov. 10.

In just her second career college start, Lee recorded a 33-save shutout over Salve Regina in a 2-0 win this past Saturday at the Worcester Ice Center for her first career win. On the young season, Lee is 1-1-0 with a 1.46 GAA and a .952 save percentage…

Another Nashua goalie, Alec Marshall, made 29 saves in a 2-1 Southern New Hampshire Univeristy win over Framingham State. The Penmen sophomore is a Bishop Guertin grad who was in the Cards’ program his freshman year but has also played juniors for the Northern Cyclones and East Coast Wizards….

Also for SNHU, Nashua’s Lydia Mathson, a freshman, finished 38th overall in the recent NCAA Women’s Cross Country Division II East Regional in Philadelphia in 24:04.9. She helped the Penmen finish third, qualifying them for the NCAA Division II National Championships on Nov. 23 at Haggin Oaks Golf Course in Sacramento, Cal…

And finally for the Penmen, senior Joanne Coffey of Merrimack had 28 assists, two digs and two blocks in a recent big win over Pace University…

Nashua’s Chris Jiminez had seven saves but Salem State, coached by former Daniel Webster College coach Matt Correia, fell 1-0 to Framingham State in the finals of the MASCAC tournament last weekend. Jiminez has been one of two local goaltenders this season for the Vikings, as Bishop Guertin alum Matt Hauntsman played in five games, allowing just two goals for a 0.39 GAA as a sophomore…

Bentley University swimming has gotten help from locals on both the men’s and women’s side. Nashua North alum Emily Sweet recently swam a leg of the winning 400 medley relay in the Falcons’ recent win over Saint Rose. Their collective time of 4:05.43 was at last look the second best in the Northeast-10 Conference.

And, Bishop Guertin alum and former Telegraph All-Area Swimmer of the Year Mark Zoda swam a leg in the winning 400 medley relay, also over Saint Rose. Zoda, a Falcons sophomore, also anchored the winning 200 free relay and swam the season’s best time in the 100 free in 47.26 seconds….

Hudson’s Nate Gosselin has been a standout for the Wentworth Institute of Technology men’s soccer team as he had a penalty kick goal in a Commonwealth Coast Conference 2-0 quarterfinal win over Roger Williams. Gosselin then had Wentworth’s lone goal in its subsequent 3-1 conference semifinal loss at the hands of Endicott. Wentworth finished 10-8-2 while Gosselin, the junior Alvirne alum, had a team-high six goals…

Back to Bentley, where BG alum and former Telegraph Golfer of the Year Tommy Ethier finished his fall season recently with his fourth straight one-under par round at the Lemoyne Invitational. He tied for seventh with a two-under 42. Ethier finished the fall season as the Falcons leading scorer, averaging 73.0 per round. His best was a 69, and he had eight rounds in the 70s, one in the 80s.