Montclair State University’s women’s volleyball team lost 3-1 at home Tuesday night to Ramapo College, ending the Red Hawks’ two-match winning streak.
The reigning New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) defensive player of the week, Red Hawks’ junior right side Natalia Majkut, fired up the Red Hawks crowd with 13 kills and three block assists in the game.
In the second set, the Red Hawks were down five, when senior libero Lily Scanzillo scored six points-on-serve to give the Red Hawks a two-point lead. Sophomore middle blocker Caitlin Lange added some key kills down the stretch but it was not enough, and the Red Hawks dropped the set 25-21.
The Red Hawks battled their rivals, second place Ramapo College Roadrunners, and fed off their home crowd but were bested by Ramapo’s offense, led by junior outside hitter Larysa Iwaskiw, who had a season-high 32 kills.
As long as all-NJAC senior outside hitter Hayley Merril is out of the lineup, the Red Hawks’ young talent will have to step up and find a way to score points without their top scorer.
Montclair State has suffered some injuries to starting players this year, but Majkut has been an all-star both offensively and defensively. In her last five games, Majkut added 21 blocks, which ranks Majkut #7 in NJAC, averaging 1 block per game.
Head Coach Eddie Stawinski addressed their team’s identity this season.
“Our team identity is on-going, and changes every day,” Stawinski said. “The reason is, we’re very young this year. Last year, we graduated six seniors and we have an injury to one of our current seniors, so that’s seven seniors from our championship team that we’ve lost.”
The team made more errors Tuesday night than they are used to making and just could not slow down the Roadrunners’ attack. Still, Montclair State has potential and this young group has the ability to right the ship.
Stawinski also talked about how team identity starts to form.
“I’m very proud of what our team has been able to do on the court and [can] keep working together,” Stawinski said. “We have some great wins and that’s part of our team’s leadership.”
Stawinski elaborated on his team’s leadership and how it came to be.
“We have some players who learned from one of our best senior classes [last year],” Stawinski said. “They’re doing a good job of using what they learned.”
The Red Hawks have young and experienced volleyball players who can play multiple positions whether its sophomore Schyler White or junior April DiAngelo, who both play three positions.
“Versatility is a big thing [because] we have a lot of players that can play in different spots,” Stawinski said. “I think that’s a benefit. It’s up to me and the coaches to see who can chip in and help our team.”
Starting Friday, Oct. 13, the Red Hawks have the opportunity of playing top teams, Fairleigh Dickinson University and Stevens Institute of Technology, in the Duck Invitational in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The Red Hawks will try to gain valuable experience as they head into the home stretch of their 2017 season. The Red Hawks’ next game will be Thursday, Oct. 12 at NJAC rivals William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.
“We have a very good schedule remaining,” Stawinski said, referencing this season’s home stretch. “I think those teams are going to help us to prepare to play high-level ball in November.”