Rowan Volleyball is gearing up for the first round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament, which takes place on Nov. 7 against William Paterson University. The Profs finished the regular season with a 9-20 record, and went 3-5 in the conference which was good enough to earn the No. 5 seed; while William Paterson, the No. 4 seed, finished the year with a 24-5 record and went 5-3 in conference play.
Rowan faced the Pioneers on Oct. 10 and suffered a 3-1 loss, so facing them for a second time, the team is looking for a better performance.
“When we went into that match, we did not play consistent volleyball,” Head Coach Deana Jespersen said. “I would like to see us play consistent volleyball and control the match tomorrow. Controlling the controllable, serve well, pass well, not getting frustrated if we don’t get a point, and not worrying about what points they get.”
Junior Brooke Adams is excited to help assist her team in another tournament run.
“This is a great time of year, when we get to put everything together that we’ve been working on all season long,” Adams said.
This is the underclassmen’s first time experiencing the NJAC tournament, and the pressure that comes with it, but upperclassmen like Adams are there to guide them through the pressure.
“We’ve been saying all season, ‘Have fun when you play’, and recently, as we’ve gotten tired at the end of the season we’re saying, ‘Remember why you started playing volleyball,’” Adams said. “It shouldn’t be as stressful as some of us make it sometimes. So if we just continue having fun with the people that we love because all of us genuinely love each other on this team.”
Coach Jespersen has also been giving advice to the underclassmen ahead of their first NJAC tournament.
“Enjoy the moment, to literally be in the moment, and not look too far ahead because it’s a do-over,” Jespersen said. “So not relying on what we already did and not focusing on if we didn’t do well. It’s a new start, enjoy the moment.”
One of these underclassmen is sophomore standout Jena Kaul, who is proud of the team’s evolution and is ready to flex this progress against William Paterson.
“We’re a completely different team than in September, or even in October,” Kaul said. “So going into William Paterson, we’ve leveled up already, especially since the last time we played them, so I think our chances are pretty good.”
Kaul remembers the previous match against William Paterson and believes the Profs have improved since then.
“The defense that we’re playing now will definitely play a huge factor compared to when we played them the first time, I think they’re going to be expecting that from us,” Kaul said. “Even if they do figure out our strategy, we have so many different options that we can do. Having a new lineup, we’re all very skilled in our positions and I think that we can have that edge up on them.”
Coach Jespersen has been using the past few games to mentally prepare the team for the tournament.
“I think we’ve been preparing them every step of the way. It’s been such a roller coaster season,” Jespersen said. “We’ve constantly talked about the rebirth of playoff season. You go into the playoffs, and you get a do-over, and in a lot of ways you get to continue pushing.”
When high-pressure situations arise, usually a standout player emerges to support their team. Coach Jespersen has a different perspective on a standout player for the Profs.
“I don’t expect any one person to step up. I think I expect all of them individually to play as a cohesive team,” Jespersen said. “We did it against Kean, they had so much fun out there. So I don’t expect any one person [to step up] as much as I hope the whole team steps up.”