Rowan Volleyball’s season ends in the NJAC quarterfinals against William Paterson

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The Rowan Volleyball team huddles up on the court. Their playoff run ended in the NJAC quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 7 against William Paterson. - Photo via Rowan Athletics.

Rowan Volleyball’s season has come to a close, as they dropped their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) quarterfinal match against the William Paterson University Pioneers on Tuesday, Nov. 7. 

The Profs won the first set of the match, but eventually lost three sets to one. As head coach Deana Jespersen looks back, she believes William Paterson overpowered Rowan.

“I think William Paterson outplayed us in all honesty,” Jespersen said. “I think they’re a talented team and that’s really what it came down to.” 

The energy on the court shifted when junior Isabel Kirchner had to exit the match. Unfortunately, the Profs were unable to recover.

“[Kirchner] went out in the second set because of really bad migraines, and she ended up not playing the rest of the match,” Jespersen said. “So we had to make different adjustments to figure things out. It certainly threw us off of our groove a bit but at the end, I just think William Paterson outplayed us and hopefully we learned some lessons from that.”

With the Profs’ up-and-down season officially over, Jeserpsen is proud of how her team handled the rigors of a full year and believes the future is bright.

“I think it was a season of growth for us,” Jespersen said. “Especially after graduating so many seniors last year and having to figure out what our new roles were.” 

The Profs welcomed new faces to the team this season, and it was immediately apparent to Jespersen that the players needed to build new chemistry on the court.

“When you graduate so many players, the personality of the team changes and you have to figure out how this team operates,” Jespersen said. 

A positive development throughout the season was sophomore Jena Kaul’s consistent performance. In her second year with the Profs, Kaul set career-highs across the board, collecting 379 kills, 289 digs, 1,139 total attacks, 34 serving aces, and improved her hitting percentage to .181.

“[Kaul] shouldered a great deal this season in terms of leadership and having to be consistent,” Jespersen said. “Having to go from a freshman last year that got a significant amount of playing time, but had to share that position with a senior coming back from an injury, she had to learn how to be a leader.”

Kaul’s strong season ended on a high note as well, as she was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Region 4 First Team. 

On another note, there are multiple freshmen who completed their first season with the Profs in 2023 and left lasting impressions on Jespersen, proving that Rowan Volleyball’s future is bright.

“I think as a group, all five freshmen impressed me,” Jespersen said. “From Ciarra Bradley and Nia Ipeker, I thought they both did a really nice job as freshmen stepping into roles. I thought they handled themselves with grace and continued to learn. I was also proud of Maya Rosenthal, Alexa Kelleher and Evalyn Vires because even though they weren’t getting as much time, their energy, and effort.”

Now that the season has wrapped up, Jespersen will hold meetings with her players figuring out how they can grow in the offseason heading into 2024.

“I haven’t met with all of them yet, but they have to start becoming leaders for the class of freshmen that’s coming in next,” Jespersen said. “They need to learn how to be hungry during the offseason and learn how to fight when there’s nothing tangible to fight for anymore.”

When it comes to having end-of-season meetings with the seniors, Jespersen prefers a more memorable event as a send-off.

“At the end of the season, I take the seniors out for dinner so I’m really excited for that,” Jespersen said. “I love Alexa [Blue] and Sydni [Greenwood] with all my heart, and I’m excited to see what they do in the future.”

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