Rowan Volleyball drops two of three in the Messiah Quad

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Vanessa Hutchinson jumps up for a serve. Hutchinson was named as the NJAC Defensive Player of the Week. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

Rowan Volleyball is looking to bounce back after a challenging weekend in the Messiah Quad. Action got underway on Friday, Sept. 22, when the Profs took on Gettysburg, and then continued into Saturday for two games when they faced off against SUNY Brockport and Messiah.

The weekend got off to a rough start when they lost to Gettysburg in three straight sets, however, the team was able to bounce back and beat SUNY Brockport three to one. The momentum didn’t carry into the final game against Messiah though, as Rowan dropped three straight sets.

Head Coach Deana Jespersen saw lots of effort from her team against each opponent, although fatigue started to become a factor towards the end of Saturday.

“During our match against Gettysburg, we showed lots of fight, we had a lot of resilience,” Jespersen said. “Brockport was definitely a battle, and then by the time we got to Messiah, we were gassed.” 

The Profs did not get the results they wanted, but the bench players benefitted from the opportunity to replace the starters. Sydni Greenwood and Jena Kaul were proud of their teammates who were challenged with entering the games during crucial moments. 

“Freshman Evalyn [Vires] really stepped up her defense,” Kaul said. “She put the team on her back in those moments when we were really trying to keep fighting and she really got the team fired up with her defense as Messiah kept drilling balls at her and she was getting them.” 

Coach Jespersen echoed Kaul’s words.

“She got out there and did her job really well when we needed her to. She came in the back row for Jena a little bit,” Jespersen said. “They both really stood out to me because that’s not an easy task to come off the bench and get in there.” 

Vires was also resourceful in her serve that led to offensive opportunities for Rowan that they took advantage of.

“I would also say (Alexa) Kelleher, her serving was phenomenal. She randomly got put in the second set,” Greenwood said. “Especially when Messiah was trying to egg us on about serves. She had the best composure on this team because of how loud they were at her. I would’ve expected her serve but she got 3 straight.”

While the team dropped two of three over the weekend, Greenwood and Kaul are focusing on the positives.

“When we played against Brockport, the main takeaway was that we can finish if we have the mindset,” Greenwood said. “Which I think is the main reason we’re not winning, everyone’s not on the same page when it comes to how they’re playing, who they’re playing for, and why they’re playing.”

One of the key components to the Profs win against Brockport was sophomore Vanessa Hutchinson. She finished the game with a team-high 33 digs, and as a result, she was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Defensive Player of the Week.

“When I think about Brockport, I think Vanessa (Hutchinson), her serve and her overall play,” Jespersen said. “Her serve was nasty all day on Saturday.” 

Freshman Ciara Bradley was also a late addition to the games, but her presence was impactful as she had 14 kills this weekend. 

“Bradley stood out in particular all weekend,” Jespersen said. “She’s starting to finally make connections with Brooke (Adams) and I think we’re finally starting to see what she can do and what’s she’s capable of.” 

After such a challenging match against Gettysburg, Kaul believes that the Profs can use that match as a building block for the future.

“I think we adapted to the fast pace that Gettysburg played,” Kaul said. “We haven’t really played at that fast pace, so it took us a minute but once we figured it out, adjusted to it, and it helped us.” 

As the team looks to get back on track, they know there are some parts of their game that need some work.

“Serving was a big one for us. I think when we serve consistently and with power, that definitely helps us,” Jespersen said. “I think we’ve been holding off a little bit on serving, not really getting the full scope of our serve.”

The Profs will look to get another win and improve their record on Thursday, Sept. 28, when they take on fellow NJAC opponent, Montclair State.

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