In game 11 of their season, the 8-2 Rowan volleyball team began their New Jersey Athletic Conference division play against the 4-6 Montclair State University on Tuesday night.
Rowan was coming off of a three-game-home-winning streak to start the season as Montclair State had gone 2-0 in this past weekend at their home Tri-Match Tournament losing only one set in their two matches.
Rowan began the match going on an 11-3 highlight reel tear, which included freshman Brooke Adams assisting on kills from upperclassmen Natalie Ogden and Brianna Newson.
Not only were these girls functioning together as a unit, but they were robust and seemingly making no careless mistakes. Rowan finished the first set 25-19.
In the second set, Montclair State Head Coach, Eddie Stawinski, subbed in 6’3” middle blocker, Skylar Kowalski, who alongside senior outside hitter Carly Waterman, made an one-two punch of strength and height that was difficult for Rowan Head Coach Deana Jespersen and her staff to figure out.
Waterman had an uncanny ability to land her kills with both accuracy and power that the Rowan players could not get around to returning the volley. Brianna Newson struggled with kill accuracy as Rowan’s clear athletic advantage did not serve in their favor with Montclair State taking the set handily 25-13.
With both teams at one set a piece, Montclair State went up 11-6 dominating the early part of the set and kept control as they finished the set winning 25-13.
Fortunately for Rowan, their hashtag for this season has been “resilience” and along with many adjustments that clearly needed to be made, Coach Deana Jespersen made her voice loud and clear while communicating with her players in between the third and fourth set.
“After the third set, the coach was telling us we had to work on the little things more,” Newson said.
Coach Jespersen talked about her mindset in between these sets.
“I’d be lying if I told you we weren’t a little frustrated as coaches,” Jespersen said. “I was frustrated because there were things that I was asking them to do that I felt like we just weren’t buying into and I was also frustrated because they weren’t trusting each other and they weren’t trusting themselves.”
Set four was dominated by Natalie Ogden. Ogden reached her tenth kill giving her three straight games of double-digit kills and eighth of the season.
Rowan won the set 25-12 nodding up the score at 2-2 and setting her team up for the fifth and final set.
“I never count us out ever,” Jespersen said. “Ever, ever, ever. So, I knew if we could get a rhythm we would be okay.”
Rowan came out to a 8-5 score and was firing all cylinders. They took the final point of the match after two consecutive timeouts taken by the Redhawks.
The match ended on a combined block by Isabel Kirchner and Courtney Rhoden who had five blocks of her own in the entire match. In addition Natalie Ogden’s and Breanna Newson’s performance, freshman Isabell Kirchner finished the match with eight kills and five blocks and senior Cassidy Abdalla totalled six kills, two blocks, and one ace.
Rowan will face Stockton University on Thursday, Sept. 23, in Galloway, NJ.
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