After winning an NJAC title, making a run in the NCAA tournament, and being named All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, outside hitter Natalie Ogden is hungry for more.
As Ogden made the decision to return to the Profs for her fifth and final year, she describes what went into making the decision.
“I think one of the main factors was how much I love the team and coaches and how great of an experience last season was. I kind of just felt like: I’m not done yet,” Ogden said. “I feel like I still had more to do with the team.”
Her head coach, Deana Jespersen, describes Ogden as hungry for more, knowing that this is her final year in the brown and gold.
“I think she has some unfinished business,” Coach Jespersen said. “She missed a year because of COVID-19 and she really wanted that last opportunity. When she got accepted into the master’s program, it was really a big deal for us.”
With a veteran leader on the squad like Ogden, who played a pivotal role in last year’s New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship team, Coach Jespersen cites how important her experience can play in shaping the team for this season.
“When Natalie’s [Ogden] around, you just have a confidence. As a coach, you have a confidence but your teammates have a confidence. Last year was the first time in 17 years that Rowan won an NJAC so there is a heavy pressure when we came into the season. I think having Natalie [Ogden] in that leadership place…because she shoulders pressure very easily and handles it with grace,” Coach Jespersen said. “I think her coming back in that type of capacity certainly gives the girls the ability to feel like they can make another run and earn that opportunity to be in that championship game again.”
Ogden’s experience has translated into early success for this season as well. After coming off of a career-best in 419 kills, 22 assists, and 49 service aces in 2021, she has started off the season hot, tallying a team-best in kills in seven out of eight games that the Profs have played in so far.
“I guess I would just say my experience kind of helped with that. I mean, playing five years of college volleyball helped with that,” Ogden said. “I think I just have confidence on the court and I know what I’m capable of.”
The Profs have gotten off to an astounding start to the season, posting an 8-0 record, only dropping five sets on the year, they haven’t lost more than two sets in a match since Sept. 2.
During this timeframe, Ogden has 114 kills, a .273 attack percentage, and 81 digs, including a season-high of 20 kills in their 3-1 victory over Catholic University on Saturday, Sept. 10.
From a coach’s perspective, Jespersen points out what she has seen from Ogden this season and throughout the entirety of her career.
“Being on this side of it, and coaching Natalie [Ogden],” Coach Jespersen said. “She plays with a ‘she’s got nothing to lose attitude’ like she’s going to be all in. She’s going to pick up this team and go, she likes to win, she knows how to win, she’s confident in herself, and she kind of tunes out everything that is around her and just plays ball.”
As a reward for her strong performance in the recent week, Odgen received NJAC Volleyball Player of the Week. She notched 1,000 career digs and posted double-doubles against Widener University and Catholic University– totaling 34 kills, and 23 digs during that time frame.
Ogden is thankful for the recognition and uses it as motivation to measure her success throughout the entirety of the season.
“It’s just a little something to show how hard I’ve been working and I mean, I don’t really need awards or anything like that. But it’s always nice to have a little bit of recognition,” Ogden said. “And I think that just keeps driving me throughout the rest of the season. And I mean, that’s something I always strive to get.”
After earning their first conference win on Tuesday, Sept. 13, Rowan will face Cabrini University, Goucher College, and Eastern University before continuing conference play against Stockton University on Sept. 20.
Coach Jespersen has high hopes that Ogden will continue to lead the Profs and continue at a high rate of success because for Ogden this is her last ride.
“This is it, she knows this is the end of her career, right, we’ve accomplished something that we really really set out to accomplish. So I think there’s nothing to lose, everything to gain,” Coach Jespersen said. “I think she’s just playing with confidence and ease because I think she knows what we’re capable of and I think she knows what she’s capable of. She’s playing great ball.”
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