Another day, another win. The Montclair State University volleyball team has extended their win streak to four after defeating Hunter College and Widener University in a tri-match on Saturday.
Montclair State had the first game against Hunter all under control as they got a 3-0 sweep. The Red Hawks never lost the lead in the first set, winning 25-20. They also gained an early lead in the second set, never looking back and winning 25-19. After a 10-7 deficit in favor of Hunter in the third set, Montclair State pulled through scoring eight unanswered points and eventually won 25-17.
Graduate student outside hitter Leah Higgins commented on the tri-match.
“It felt great,” Higgins said. “We came in knowing that these are really good teams, really good competition and we wanted to give it our all. [We] couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
Sophomore right-side player Nadya Ackermanian led the team with 10 kills against Hunter and freshman defensive specialist Emma Hatcher had a team-high 14 digs. The team’s aggressive approach proved to be successful.
Head coach Eddie Stawinski explained the team’s strategy.
“We were more aggressive on the service line against Hunter,” Stawinski said. “We took Hunter’s middle out of the game because they couldn’t set the ball to the middle.”
The Red Hawks’ second match-up of the day against Widener was closer and more intense with a 3-1 win. The first set ended 29-27 after both teams kept a one-point lead over each other for the majority of the set. Montclair State was able to win the second set 25-23 after another back-and-forth contest but fell to the Pride in the third 25-20. They were able to answer back in the fourth with a 25-16 victory to seal it.
“Against Widener, we got a little more comfortable serving,” Stawinski said. “That’s, I think, why the scores were a little bit closer. They ran their offense a little bit more than what we wanted.”
Higgins talked about the focus the team had playing in both games.
“It didn’t have anything to do with the other side, it was all us,” Higgins said. “We were in control that first game. In the second game—we let up for three points and that was the difference in that third set. We got our focus back that fourth set, we got the win.”
Higgins tallied a new team-high with 18 kills in the second game and has moved up to 1,100 career kills while graduate student setter Delaney St. Pierre earned herself a double-double of 40 assists and 11 digs.
Heading toward the end of the season, Montclair State has gotten a little hot with a four-game win streak.
“On Thursday we went up to Trinity [College], and we played an exceptional match,” Stawinski said. “It’s just clicking at the right time. Everything we saw early on, the ups and downs, I think we can weather the storms a little bit better nowadays. We’re competing with these good teams and we’re getting away with seeing more wins.”
The Red Hawks only have two games left on the season including one final home game against Vassar College. It will be an emotional moment. especially for the seniors.
“It’s sad, [it’s] bittersweet,” Higgins said. “Our last home game is on Wednesday. That’s hard to hear so we’re just going to play hard.”
The Red Hawks look to keep their focus on the next two games and keep competing for the rest of the season.
“We have [New York University (NYU)] who I think is sixth or seventh in the country right now,” Stawinski said. “They’re a really good team. Finishing up with Vassar for our seniors, I just think this stretch is about growing as a team, playing good competition and then just clicking at the right time for playoffs.”
Montclair State heads to Brooklyn to face NYU, ranked sixth in the country, for their next game on October 25.