The Montclair State University women’s volleyball team defeated the Rowan University Profs at home on Tuesday, Oct. 31 in four sets 3-1.
The Red Hawks are the defending champions of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) and will look to continue defending their title on Thursday, Nov. 2 when they go on the road to face the top-seeded Kean University Cougars in the semi-final.
The Red Hawks dominated the first two sets of their opening round match against Rowan, winning each set 25-11 and 25-14. Junior April DiAngelo led the way for the Red Hawks with nine kills in the first two sets.
“We definitely executed our game plan in the first two sets,” Red Hawks head coach Eddie Stawinski said. “We were lights out going to our middles, where we had success earlier in the year against [Rowan].”
The Red Hawks led through most of the third set, but the Profs stormed back to take the set 25-23.
“Rowan’s a great team, so we knew Rowan would put up a good fight,” Stawinski said. “We adjusted our game plan and mixed and matched to get [Rowan] away from their game plan.”
In the fourth set, Montclair State rebounded after losing a tight set 25-23. The Red Hawks had 15 blocks as a team. Sophomore Caitlin Lange and junior Natalia Majkut played strong on defense and denied Rowan from getting back in the game.
The Red Hawks battled their opponents and prevailed in another close set, 25-22. Sophomore Schyler White led the team with 15 kills and raised her level of play as the match wore on.
According to players like White, chemistry is an important part of their team.
“We have one senior on the team, and I play every game for her,” White said. “She’s put four years into this team, and I always work my hardest for my teammates.”
The Red Hawks served 11 aces to Rowan’s six and seemed to gain momentum from their service game. Freshman Alexandra Campos served 11 straight points in the first set to stretch the lead from 9-7 to 20-7.
“[Serving] has a big impact on how we play,” White said. “It pumps us up a lot. We’re a heavy-serving team and we depend a lot on serving.”
Stawinski loved the resilience his young team showed.
“I love how we played because we’re such a young team this year, and if we can do this now, this will be a fun team to watch,” Stawinski said. “To win like that, when we’re not playing our best, is a very good feeling.”
The Red Hawks are the defending champions and will look to defend their title against the top-seed Kean Cougars on Thursday in the second round of the NJAC playoffs.
“Kean went undefeated in the league and they’re doing great things over there,” said Stawinski. “What I tell my team right now is we are the defending champions, and we’ve been in this situation before.”
The Red Hawks previously played the Cougars to a five-set match on Sept. 19.
“This is a new season,” Stawinski said. “We’re playing for practice tomorrow. We’re playing on Thursday for a practice on Friday, and then [playing] on Saturday to win it all. As of right now, we’re still the defending champions. We want to believe that and go into the match on Thursday knowing that we can.”