The volleyball team hoisted the New Jersey Athletic Championship (NJAC) trophy loud and proud last week after they defeated top-seeded Ramapo College in the NJAC Tournament Championship – earning the college the first Volleyball NJAC title in almost a decade, the previous coming in 2007.
“It is a great feeling to see Montclair State back in the top of the NJAC,” Head Coach Eddie Stawinski said, “It was surely a memorable run in the post-season this year.” With this title, the team earned themselves a bid to the coveted NCAA Tournament with an eagerness to earn another banner to hang in the Panzer Athletic Center.
The NJAC Championship Tournament is a familiar scene for Stawinski and his team, having lost in the semifinals last season to their rivals, Stockton University, last season. Ironically, Stockton was exactly who they met in the semifinals this season. Except, this season took a different turn. The Red Hawks came out victorious over their eight-time NJAC rival from down the shore. Coach Stawinski credits this win over Stockton as a big conference booster for the girls.
“Having played in the finals last year we remembered the feeling of being so close and not playing our best,” Coach Stawinski said. “The team was poised not to let that opportunity go by twice and took advantage of it.”
After a redeeming semifinal, the team took the court with less nerves and more certainty, having played one of the best matches of their season that night against Ramapo, in the opinion of their head coach.
The title came at the ‘perfect time,’ according to Stawinski. They have improved as the season progressed, but as the Championship Game approached, he believed that they were playing their best volleyball of the season. Stawinski felt confident going into the Championship Game, highlighting the team’s hard work and their strategies in accordance to their specific NJAC competitors.
“We had different game plans for each conference playoff match and the team executed them in the matches,” Stawinski said.
Their game plans paid off in the NJAC, but this is not the end of the road. The NCAA bracket was released via live stream on Monday and the entire team gathered to watch it together to learn their fate.
The team will take the short trip to Stevens Institute of Technology, where they will take on Clark University in Massachusetts. Stawinski and his fellow coaches will work to develop a new game plan, while looking to his reliable team to be as consistent as they always have been throughout the season.
“We have great depth in our program and have been able to maintain a competitive level in practice which has helped us maintain a high level throughout the season,” Stawinski said.
The team hopes to snatch the first NCAA Volleyball title for Montclair State since 2007. “It is a strong bracket and Clark is a great opponent,” Stawinski said. “Overall, it is a great feeling to see Montclair State Volleyball announced in the National Championship Tournament.”