Volleyball drops their fifth straight match against Mary Washington

Ciara Bradley spikes the ball. Bradley recorded six kills and five blocks on Tuesday, Sept. 12. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

Friends and family of the Rowan volleyball team gathered in Esbjornson Gymnasium on Tuesday, Sept. 12 to watch the Profs battle the Mary Washington University Eagles.

Mary Washington entered the contest undefeated with a 6-0 record. The Profs entered the game hoping to snap a four-game losing streak and improve their 1-4 overall record.

During the first set, Mary Washington took a 9-4 lead. Rowan didn’t let that first lead scare them off, however, as they later tied it up after the Eagles made a few errors. This allowed the Profs to keep fighting and not give up the set. 

During long rallies, the momentum started to shift back to Mary Washington as they took advantage of errors and balls hit out of bounds. The score was 20-19 in favor of Mary Washington when junior Isabel Kirchner and freshman Ciara Bradley worked together to block a shot that would’ve given the Eagles another point. 

Sophomore Jena Kaul then provided one of the key plays for Rowan by launching a missile of a shot to Mary Washington that couldn’t be returned. When the team and crowd realized that the shot was still in the court, a loud eruption of cheers occurred in support of the Profs. 

The Mary Washington Eagles wound up winning the first set 25-21, leading the match one set to zero. The first set proved to be a very close and challenging match for both teams and offered a preview of how the rest of the match would play out. 

The second set started differently than the first, with Rowan taking a 7-4 lead. The team’s offense and defense soared in this set, as the offense was hitting shots that miraculously stayed within the court while the defense was providing stellar blocks to keep Mary Washington from scoring. 

The Eagles kept the set very close and forced it to go to extra points. With the set tied at 23, Rowan scored two points to take the lead. Once each point was scored, the crowd exploded into a loud cheer for Rowan as they kept fighting. 

The crowd’s support kept a fire going for the Profs, as they won the second set 28-26. They would tie the match, but fall in the next two sets as Mary Washington would win the match, 3-1.

As a result, the Eagles remain undefeated on the season and Rowan drops to 1-5. Although this match resulted in a loss, Head Coach Deana Jespersen was so proud of her team, especially after coming off a quick turnaround from their weekend tri-match.

“I couldn’t be prouder. I think that might be some of the best volleyball that I’ve seen a Rowan volleyball team play since I’ve been here,” Jespersen said. 

Coach Jespersen is also happy to see her team play up to the competition.

“We’re working so hard on staying in a certain mindset and learning how to be hungry, and it’s not an easy thing to learn how to win games,” Jespersen said. 

One thing from last weekend’s tri-match that Coach Jespersen wanted to focus on for their quick turnaround was serving. During Tuesday’s game, Rowan’s serving improved dramatically.

“As a whole when you look at serving, it certainly was so much better than the other day, and I think that serving can be such a mindset thing,” Jespersen said. 

Junior Syndi Greenwood, who contributed heavily during the long second set, elaborated on the feeling around the team during that set.

“I was elated. I literally felt like I was on cloud nine,” Greenwood said. “I was so impressed with how, especially during extra points, that no one gave up and nobody was hitting safety shots.”

Sophomore Vanessa Hutchinson is grateful that her teammates got to play a team like Mary Washington, as it drove them to not give up.

“I think we all really liked playing a team like that,” Hutchinson said. “Because we were all eager for that competition to where we could just play our hearts out.”

Moving forward, the Profs will look to turn their record around against Swarthmore College on Thursday, Sept. 14. Hutchinson knows what the team will work on during practice before the match. 

“There’s one scenario in our defense where we just have to work on out-of-system defense, I think that’s a really easy fix,” Hutchinson said. “I also think serve-receive is something that should be practiced every single day because serving and passing wins games.”

The Profs will return to Esby Gym at Rowan for a tri-match on Saturday, Sept. 16 against Eastern and Goucher.

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