It has been a long road to get to Montclair State University for Delaney St. Pierre, but she has finally found her home.
St. Pierre, a senior captain of the women’s volleyball team, previously played Division I volleyball back in 2018 for Rider University. During her freshman year, she appeared in 15 matches and saw action in 33 sets for the Broncos.
Her season at Rider was extremely promising, as she tallied 42 kills, 79 assists, five service aces, 21 digs and 11 total blocks during the year. Although St. Pierre’s volleyball season at Rider was successful in terms of her play, she didn’t feel like she had the time to focus on her career goals.
“Rider is Division I, so it was hard for me to focus on marine biology there because of how focused you have to be on volleyball at that level,” St. Pierre said. “It just wasn’t a fit for me.”
It goes to show that even when players are playing at the highest level of their collegiate sport, it still may not be the right school for them.
After her freshman year, St. Pierre transferred to Eckerd College, a Division II school in Florida. After going over the numbers, St. Pierre realized that attending Eckerd was going to be too expensive. By that time in her transfer process, it was too late and she didn’t have any offers, so she had to go to a junior college in order to transfer again.
For her sophomore season, St. Pierre attended Arizona Western Community College. Since it is a community college, St. Pierre knew she would be leaving after the season was over.
In just one season at Arizona Western, St. Pierre showed off her versatility and leadership while splitting time at setter and right side to help the Matadors reach the NJCAA Region I championship game. She made an immediate impact and earned honorable mention honors for the all-conference team.
“I had the greatest semester ever at Arizona Western,” St. Pierre said. “I had to leave, [but] I probably wouldn’t have left if it was a four-year school.”
At Arizona Western, St. Pierre had a great group of friends because they were all so similar. Many of them were also former Division I players who were trying to get back on track.
St. Pierre had a decision to make. She could attempt to return to Division I volleyball, but that could potentially come with the cost of not properly dedicating enough time to her major.
According to her, coming to Montclair State wasn’t all about her sport.
“As much as my first year in New Jersey didn’t go as planned, I loved being close to the city,” St. Pierre said. “I felt like [Division III] was a good fit for me where I could focus on other things, [since] my true passion is marine biology.”
St. Pierre arrived at Montclair State as a junior and has quickly gained serious respect from her teammates and coaches, on and off the court.
Fellow senior captain Carly Waterman thinks very highly of St. Pierre.
“Delaney has been a superstar on our team since the moment she walked in the gym,” Waterman said. “She’s a leader and she holds everyone accountable.”
Not only does she run the entire offense, but St. Pierre also acts how a quarterback or point guard traditionally does, distributing the ball to her teammates and setting them up with kills. She is always aware of the situation and directs her teammates where they need to be if necessary.
Head coach Eddie Stawinski believes St. Pierre is someone the entire team can look up to.
“She has led by example [in terms of] the way she trains, the way she practices and the way she handles things on the court,” Stawinski said. “She’s always calm, which is a really good thing to have as a leader on a volleyball team — somebody who stays calm because the game can get hectic at times.”
Like many other athletes, St. Pierre’s 2020 season was delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Her junior season had to wait until the spring of 2021.
In her first season as a Red Hawk, St. Pierre did not disappoint. She earned second-team all-conference honors after leading the Red Hawks in assists (127) while adding 34 digs and 14 kills. For that season, St. Pierre ranked third in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in assists per set with an average of 7.4.
Her most notable performance that season was in a win against Kean University in the NJAC semifinals, in which she recorded a double-double by putting up 29 assists and 11 digs.
Now that St. Pierre is playing a full season again, she is putting all of her skills on display. The Red Hawks are currently 14-7 and winners of 12 games in a row as of Oct. 18. Her distributing skills have also continued to grow, averaging 9.38 assists per set which currently ranks second in the NJAC.
The marriage between St. Pierre and Montclair State has been a success. More importantly, St. Pierre has found a perfect balance between her major and her sport.
“It is everything I was kind of hoping for. The marine biology program that I’m in is great and [the athletics are great], too,” St. Pierre said. “We started off a little slow but we’re on a [12-game] winning streak so hopefully we keep that rolling.”