The Montclair State University volleyball team lost their first home game of the season in four sets at the Panzer Athletic Center against Rowan University, their third New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) match already in the season.
To start the match, both teams traded points back and forth early on in the first set. Freshman setter Emily Carcich received back-to-back assists for the Red Hawks’ first two points of the match, right off of her historic match against Ramapo College.
Errors were a crucial part of Montclair State falling behind midway through the set. The Red Hawks had a total of seven kills and six errors in total, which led to their hitting percentage falling to 0.025% in the first set.
Head coach Eddie Stawinski recognized the sloppy play early on and is adamant about fixing it heading into the later conference play.
“We are a young team,” Stawinski said. “Our game needs to get more clean and crisp. We are giving away a lot of errors and in a match like this against a good team such as Rowan, we can’t afford to give up a lot of errors, we have to change especially going into our upcoming NJAC matches.”
Montclair State would lose the first set, but the second set proved to be more competitive compared to the first. The Red Hawks came out more aggressive, jumping out to a 7-4 lead early on.
Graduate student outside hitter Leah Higgins received the first kill, but they would lose this lead as Rowan would rack up points from kills and attacking errors committed by Montclair State, taking a 12-10 lead over the Red Hawks. From this point, both teams would go back and forth in a close set.
Higgins had a total of four kills in the set, which helped to keep Montclair State in the match with her offensive play. The set would continue to be close, but the Profs would go on to win the second set 25-20. Three of Rowan’s last four points to close out the set came off of attacking errors committed back-to-back-to-back by the Red Hawks.
Down 0-2, the team needed a win to stay afloat in the match. The Red Hawks started the third set going up 9-4. This would be Montclair State’s most efficient set so far in the match, committing only four errors in total for the set.
Senior middle blocker Gianna Arias showed her heart as she racked up three kills to go along with three blocks in the set. One of the blocks Arias had not only hyped up her team but also made the crowd go crazy. Montclair State would not give up their lead for the remainder of the third set, winning it 25-16.
Stawinski praised his team’s resiliency and strategies after winning the third set.
“We had to switch some things up, so we were constantly changing our defense and it helped us stay in the match, it got us to focus more on the small details,” Stawinski said. “Once we started doing that our game started to come alive more in the later sets.”
The fourth set would be a roller coaster for the Red Hawks. What started off as a close set started to get away from Montclair State when Rowan scored five straight points because of more errors. After several mistakes, the Red Hawks would find themselves trailing 17-10. However, Montclair State would make runs of their own, going on a four-point run and a six-point run to give them a 20-18 lead.
Rowan once again would turn up the intensity and had a 7-3 point run to close out the fourth set. They would defeat the Red Hawks 25-23.
Standing with a 5-7 record now, Montclair State will head to Stockton University to face the Ospreys, who they beat in last season’s NJAC semifinals. The match is on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.