The Rowan volleyball team had a busy weekend in Glassboro beginning on Friday night, Oct. 28, against SUNY Cortland, followed by hosting the Rowan Quad on Saturday, Oct. 29, to close out the regular season.
Among the teams competing were Salisbury University, Nazareth College, Hunter College and Rowan University. The Profs went 1-2 for the weekend, dropping to SUNY Cortland and Salisbury while defeating Nazareth.
The first set against the Red Dragons was very competitive, but SUNY Cortland went on a 6-1 run backed by Profs’ hitting errors and kills from the Red Dragons, giving them the first set advantage 25-21.
After the Profs trailed early in the second set 6-2, Dani Emrich came in to serve and Rowan found some success. Emrich grabbed her first ace of the day, while Rowan was able to capitalize on errors from the Red Dragons taking a 7-6 lead. The middle of the set was evenly matched, but SUNY Cortland rattled off eight straight to extend their lead 24-19, and finished off the set 25-21.
Things looked grim for the Profs in the third set going down 4-0, eventually going down 14-3, but they were able to pull within five. The rest of the set was evenly matched, but a kill from the Red Dragons sealed the deal 25-23 to take the match.
“If you don’t learn anything after a loss, then it’s not worth it, but SUNY Cortland is a very strong team, very talented and historically they’re a strong team, we knew that was going to be a tough one,” Head Coach Deana Jespersen said. “It was a good loss because that’s a team that is regionally ranked and plays tough ball.”
Following the loss, Rowan was able to bounce back and beat Nazareth 3-0.
“We took care of the ball a lot differently today, we set each other up for success a little bit differently today,” Coach Jespersen. “This team always bounces back, they love the game and they love each other so much.”
Rowan had to adjust in more ways than one. With sophomore setter Brooke Adams out for the day, sophomore setter Abigail Webster stepped up and helped lead the Profs to victory.
The Profs started out in dominating fashion, opening up with a 13-2 lead. The Golden Flyers were not able to recover as Rowan cruised to a 25-9 opening set victory.
Rowan went down early in the second and had to play catch-up, which allowed the teams to go neck and neck. The Profs stepped up on all cylinders and rallied late to win it 25-22.
Webster, who had a career high 31 assists in the match, described how she felt prior to the match and how she was able to find success.
“I think I was nervous starting out. I haven’t really played a lot this season, but my teammates were really there for me and their energy kept us going the entire time,” Webster said. “There was never a moment throughout the entire game that I didn’t think my team would get the sweep.”
Prior to that day, Webster had only played in four sets, and was able to take advantage of her opportunity to lead the team.
In the third set Rowan, started off hot once again and used it to open up the scoring 11-4. The Profs played to their strengths and were able to use combination play from their middle and outside hitters in order to secure the match victory.
Isabel Kirchner and Courtney Rhoden had 12 and 11 kills respectively, while the two of them combined for five blocks and nine digs. Rowan grabbed the last set 25-14.
“Our hitters were playing some nice defense,” Coach Jespersen said. “The hitters were putting us in good situations by digging, so everybody was stepping up.”
“Wherever I knew they would be, I would just give them the ball because I know that they are going to put it away and they’re going to get that kill,” added Webster.
In the final match of the quad, Rowan fell to Salisbury in three sets. The Profs did not start out how they anticipated, losing 25-8. Rowan struggled to get the offense going, making attacking errors which allowed the Seagulls to capitalize.
Rowan saw improvements in their attack in the second set, but once again Salisbury was able to overpower that intensity and take the second set 25-18.
“We definitely did not get ourselves in-system enough, they came after us for sure, with their serving,” Coach Jespersen said. “But when we started to take care of the ball differently and started to attack their outsides and take them out of system, I think we played a lot better.”
The Profs were able to match the intensity of the Seagulls in the final set, but Salisbury scored four straight to take the match 25-21.
“Obviously with our two losses the pace of play was higher and a lot faster, we just needed to control our side of the court better I think, but other than that I don’t think we played terrible ball, we just needed to clean some things up,” senior libero Simone Sparano said. “They were really tough teams, but overall I thought it was a good weekend.”
Sparano finished the match with ten digs, while fifth year hitter Natalie Ogden led the way with seven kills and 12 digs, along with Kirchner and Sydni Greenwood adding four each. The Profs only had 20 kills in the match and 21 errors, which is the first time they had more attack errors than kills throughout the year.
Rowan now sits at 22-6 and 9-2 at home. The Profs will gear up for the postseason, as they will play in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship Tournament semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 3, after clinching the number one seed and the first round bye.
For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.