The Rowan Volleyball team hit the court against the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders on Tuesday, Oct. 3 for a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) matchup.
The Profs entered the match with a 4-11 record, including a 1-2 record against NJAC opponents. Rutgers-Newark entered with a 9-5 record and a 1-1 record against NJAC opponents.
As the first set began, Rowan took an early 11-4 lead over Rutgers-Newark. The Profs found themselves in the middle of a long rally, which shifted the momentum in their direction.
Junior Brooke Adams found the right opportunity to get the scoring started, as she set up her teammate Kyra Hissner to win the point. Adams, who had 32 assists, was key to Rowan’s offense as she then set up Jena Kaul for a beautiful shot that Rutgers-Newark couldn’t stop.
Rutgers-Newark took a timeout to try and gather themselves, but ultimately, the Profs would win the first set 25-10 which gave them a 1-0 lead. The Profs took that momentum into the second set, as they got out to an early 10-5 lead.
Rutgers-Newark committed several errors which helped the Profs take multiple early leads.
“They did make a ton of errors. I also felt like they challenged us,” Head Coach Deana Jespersen said. “So taking advantage of the mistakes that they made was very important for us to not allow things to affect us.”
With the end of the second set inching closer, Rowan had a stranglehold on the game, building up a 23-14 lead. Another long rally ensued, as the Profs played heads-up defense to save the ball multiple times with Rutgers-Newark trying to win the point.
Kaul followed by hitting two shows in a row that were placed in the back corner of the court away from the Scarlet Raiders. The Profs won the second set 25-15 to take a 2-0 lead and put themselves in the driver’s seat.
The Scarlet Raiders entered the third set with their backs against the wall, looking to shift the momentum. They gained early acceleration, but Rowan fought to gain control of the set.
The Profs jumped out to a 17-11 lead and started to be more strategic with their shots. Some shots were hit in no man’s land, out of reach of Rutgers-Newark, while others were hit to the back corner of the court.
Sophomore Vanessa Hutchinson secured the victory with one final ace, sending everyone on the court into a celebration. With the win, the Profs improved to 5-11 overall while being 2-2 against NJAC opponents.
Coach Jespersen was proud of her team for getting back in the NJAC playoff picture.
“We need this win, as we need a couple more wins in the NJAC because we really need to assure ourselves a place in the playoffs,” Coach Jespersen said. “You never know what’s going to happen in the NJAC. We want to keep pushing ourselves in the best position possible.”
Adams was elated that she and her teammates could improve their game against an NJAC opponent.
“We are now 2-2 in the NJAC. Obviously, that’s not ideally where we want to be, but we can only go up,” Adams said. “All that matters is that we get to the playoffs, doesn’t matter how we get there, or whatever our record is. That’s our goal right now.”
Hutchinson was proud of how her teammates served.
“That was the most aggressive I’ve seen everyone serve,” Hutchinson said. “Obviously serve-receive, as a passer, that’s very important for me, so I feel like we were locked in on that and then we’re able to run our offense from that.”
Coach Jespersen is ready to get back to practice to start building some consistency.
“I think we have a long way to go in terms of just being sure of ourselves, and learning how to play consistent volleyball,” Jespersen said. “That means practice through match time, it can’t just be matches that we’re playing at that level. If we practice the way that we played today, we’re going to make huge strides.”
The Profs’ next challenge awaits on Tuesday, Oct. 10, as they face their third consecutive NJAC opponent when they travel to William Paterson University.