PHOTO ESSAY: Women’s Volleyball Moves On To NJAC Title Game With Win Over Stockton

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Published November 5, 2021
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The Montclarion
Leah Higgins embraces her teammate after a victorious win. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

For years, the Red Hawks have struggled to get over the hump against Stockton University with their 2019 and spring 2021 seasons ending at the hands of the Ospreys in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament.

The Montclair State women's volleyball team celebrating their victory. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The Montclair State women’s volleyball team celebrates their victory.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Defensive specialist Sophia Marziello during the playoff game. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Defensive specialist Sophia Marziello during the playoff game.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

But finally, the Red Hawks have overcome their demons with a resounding 3-0 sweep of Stockton on Thursday in front of a packed house at Panzer Athletic Center, clinching a road game against Rowan University for the NJAC Championship on Saturday.

Aubrey Rentzel (left) trying to volley as the Montclair State team watches. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Aubrey Rentzel (left) tries to volley as the Montclair State team watches.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Middle blocker Skylar Kowalski waiting for the ball to be put into play. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Middle blocker Skylar Kowalski waits for the ball to be put into play.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

After a close first set victory by the Red Hawks, the turning point of the game came in the second set. A 10-2 run capped off by a service ace by freshman libero/defensive specialist Katie Rodman gave them a 15-6 lead in the second set, as the Red Hawks would win that same set 25-16.

Gianna Arias (middle) anxiously looking as the ball is about to hit the ground. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Gianna Arias (middle) anxiously looks as the ball is about to hit the ground.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell watching the game from the crowd. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell (middle right) watches the game from the crowd.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

In the third set, Stockton hung around for most of it. However, with senior captain Carly Waterman out for the season with an injury, senior outside hitter Leah Higgins was the anchor offensively for the Red Hawks. Higgins would deliver two huge kills late in the set, as Montclair State would finish the sweep with a 25-22 victory in the last set.

Outside hitter number six, Haley Green (left), striking the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Outside hitter number six, Haley Green (left), striking the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Charlotte Leon (left) and Leah Higgins (right) both reaching for the ball in play. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Charlotte Leon (left) and Leah Higgins (right) both reaching for the ball in play.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Higgins finished with eight kills, leading both teams. Senior setter/right side Delaney St. Pierre would finish with 24 assists in the game, delivering beautiful passes to her teammates the entire time.

Delaney St. Pierre reaching for the ball as members of both teams watch. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Delaney St. Pierre reaches for the ball as members of both teams watch.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Outside hitter number six, Haley Green (left), striking the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Outside hitter number six, Haley Green (left), striking the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The Red Hawks’ victory in the NJAC Semifinals marks the second straight trip to the NJAC Championship game for the program, as they hope to obtain their first conference championship since 2016 against the Rowan Profs.

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