Last Saturday was a busy day for the Montclair State University volleyball team as they played a doubleheader against Springfield and Franklin & Marshall.
The Red Hawks lost both matches and fell to 4 to 3 on the season.
Head coach Eddie Stawinski spoke about what the Red Hawks need to improve on the most for the next games and throughout the rest of the season.
“Our setting, our consistency right now overall, setting, the speed of the game, we want it to be a lot faster,” Stawinski said. “We’re setting the ball too high which gives teams like that a good chance of setting up their blocks. So we want to speed up the set. I think the passing is another thing. So what we call ‘serve receive,’ is when the other team is serving, we want to make sure that we pass a little bit better. Our numbers want to be above 2.3 or higher so we want to make sure we get those numbers a little higher. I thought they were a little on the lower side today.”
The first matchup was against Springfield. Junior outside hitter Rachel Curran and freshman middle blocker Zoey Horn led the Red Hawks in kills with 11 each.
Sophomore libero Emma Hatcher served well as always and achieved the most aces on the team with three. Horn was a force to be reckoned with upfront as she had six blocks.
The Red Hawks were down early in the first set, but with a kill from Horn it was all tied up at 22. Springfield would then go on to get three of the final four markers and win the set.
Springfield dominated the second set 25-10, and Montclair State fell 2-0 down rather quick.
The third set is where the Red Hawks began to rally themselves back into the match. Montclair State had a quick start and thanks to some excellent play from the service line by junior defensive specialist Julia Vargo, they led 12-6.
After holding the Pride off from taking the lead multiple times throughout, the Red Hawks were able to secure the set after Horn and sophomore setter Emily Carcich linked up for a beautiful play making it 2-1.
Much like the third set, Montclair State jumped out to an early 8-3. Both sides traded momentum throughout the set however, it was Springfield who pulled it out by a score of 25-22.
Montclair State’s second game of the day was against Franklin & Marshall.
For the Red Hawks it was Curran leading the way with five kills while freshman Gabby Konrad picked up 12 digs and Carcich dished out 14 assists.
In the first frame, Franklin & Marshall led 14-9 before four straight unforced errors put the Red Hawks within one. After a 6-0 run by the Diplomats, the home team answered with six of the next seven points.
It was 22-20 after a kill from freshman outside hitter Emily Ferri, but Franklin & Marshall scored three of the final four points in the opening set.
Horn reflected on how the Red Hawks were able to continuously play hard throughout the game even when they were losing.
“So, I guess it was definitely hard in a lot of parts to find momentum, but in practice we’ve been practicing a lot on finding that momentum and getting back up from points that are extremely hard. Like a hard hit, you just have to pop right back up, and I think these games we did that really well,” Horn said. “There’s a few times, obviously, that we didn’t get back up with that momentum, but I think we’re definitely finding that path. So I’m excited to see how that turns out.”
There were four ties throughout the second set however Franklin & Marshall showed their experience by keeping their composure late, leading to a 25-18 win.
Through two frames, the Red Hawks were winning less again and their backs were against the wall. Montclair State had perhaps their worst set so far during this young season and were defeated 25-8, making them 0-2 on the day.
Stawinski believes playing these tough games will be beneficial in the long run for his team, especially because they are young.
“I think the biggest thing is, you know, when we play these games, I think, we don’t, we win or we learn, right,” Stawinski said. “So we were playing two very good NCAA caliber teams that are top in their conference so we’ve got to take a little bit out of those matches that they did and try to instill it into our program a little bit. Especially, cause we’re on the younger side so we have a lotta freshmen players, a lot of sophomores so, you know, we’ll watch the film and watch the things that they did, like Springfield and Franklin Marshall, and then try to do that on our side. So I think that’s one of the things that, you know yes it’s a loss, but we want to learn a little bit from these teams as well.”
Although they are young, Montclair State volleyball continues to show their talent and fight. With more game action together, these Red Hawks could very well start surging upwards.