The Rowan women’s volleyball team continued their dominance in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) handling New Jersey City University (NJCU) 3-1. They now are 7-0 in the conference and 18-3 in the season.
It was an important night for the Profs both on and off the court, as it was mental health awareness night, in conjunction with a chapter of, The Hidden Opponent at Rowan, a non-profit organization that provides mental health awareness, education, and support for student-athletes.
In addition, the Profs honored Natalie Ogden at this home match for grabbing her 1,000th kill at Stevenson on Saturday, Oct. 8, as well as Head Coach Deana Jespersen, who amassed her 300th win with the brown and gold, as she now sits at 312 wins.
“It’s a big deal, any milestone, we talk about it on the team celebrating everything, those victory cake moments,” Coach Jespersen said. “Especially after cancer, I feel like you have to celebrate all of the little things, it’s less about a number and more about how I’ve been with the teams I’ve had. I think about it as the different teams and the culture and how successful they have been. It’s been quite a ride, it’s fun.”
To open up the match, the Profs went on a 4-0 scoring run and then scored seven straight points after the Gothic Knights got on the board to make the game 11-2. The Profs were able to dominate the first set only giving up eight points and won 25-8.
A multitude of service aces from Dani Emrich and Jackie Camponelli, along with some big swings from Ogden, Jena Kaul, and Isabel Kirchner were pivotal factors in the first set.
The Profs and Gothic Knights were nearly going point for point in the second set but Rowan scored five straight in the middle of the set to give them a sizable lead, the Profs kept up that momentum and won 25-16 in the second set.
“I think our serving was really great, I think we were aggressive with our serving,” Coach Jespersen said. “We were playing really great out-of-system in those early sets. So [when] we were getting ourselves back into situations when we were out-of-system, we were able to put ourselves back into positions to attack and get our points.”
With the strong serving, Emrich tied a career-high with three service aces, Camponelli added two, and Brooke Adams led the way with four.
Even with a 2-0 lead for the Profs, the Gothic Knights hung around with Rowan in the third set to avoid the sweep.
The teams went point for point and NJCU was able to pull off the upset in set three scoring five straight points to take it 25-23. A key factor in that set was the Profs’ kills leader Ogden wasn’t playing. Other big hitters for the Profs including Kaul, Kirchner, and Camponelli only played three sets as well.
Coach Jespersen discusses how other players can step up when the veterans aren’t on the court.
“In set three we kind of let our guard down and didn’t capitalize on those moments,” Coach Jespersen said. “If Natalie [Ogden] isn’t on the court, that’s an opportunity for someone else to step into a leadership role and take the team on their back and we have to learn how to do that.”
With the Profs now one set away from keeping their undefeated streak in the conference still intact, they went back to playing their style of volleyball that has led them to success all year.
Rowan unleashed all of their weapons, including Kirchner who led the way for the Profs with 13 kills, just one shy of tying her career high. The sophomore credits her teammates for the success against the Gothic Knights.
“Brooke [Adams] knows my strong suits, so when she’s able to get it to the pin, I’m able to get it down the line,” Kirchner said. “Really my teammates [are the ones] who are helping me to succeed.”
Adams once again filled up the stats sheet for the Profs she had 38 assists, three kills, five digs, and four service aces.
Rowan went on multiple scoring runs and used a balanced attack to finish off the match with a 25-17 fourth-set victory. Kaul and Odgen each added nine kills, while Simone Sparano led the way with 16 digs.
The Profs took the victory 3-1 and with only one conference matchup remaining, Rowan is aiming to do what they did last year in sweeping the conference and capturing another championship title. With their sights set on these goals, Kirchner shares her message for other teams in the conference and states how the Profs will stay sound.
“It’s just us being hungry, knowing that we’re going to hold our title, knowing what we can do, what we did do last year,” Kirchner said. “We just keep fighting for what we pride ourselves in.”
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