There is good energy. There is high energy. And then there is the energy the Montclair State University volleyball team brings to their matches, and it was made clear in their first couple of matches at home of the 2022 season.
It’s always special inside the Panzer Athletic Center when a big match (or in this case, a tri-match) is being played; the eager fans filing into the stands, the Red Hawk Sports Network getting ready to give their in-depth coverage. And most importantly, the volleyball team getting hyped up and bringing in noise to get everyone ready for what’s to come.
Graduate student setter Delaney St. Pierre knows how important that energy level is for every match, especially at home.
“You don’t usually get a lot of fans and stuff, so you have to create your own energy,” St. Pierre said. “We started high right off the bat, and that’s really important to out-energy them if that makes sense.”
For anyone who participated in cheering on the Red Hawks, it was obvious to say they definitely “out-energized” the Colonels of Wilkes University and the Bearcats of Baruch College. Every point, every dig, every kill and even every dropped point, the team was cheering loudly and proudly.
Graduate student outside hitter Leah Higgins was excited to finally be back at Montclair State to play some volleyball.
“It’s awesome,” Higgins said. “Our first scrimmage, our home opener was supposed to be last week, and we’ve been missing home a little bit, but it’s great to get two wins right off the bat.”
The two dominant games for the Red Hawks all started with their matchup against Wilkes, and while looking at the box score it seems it was a back-and-forth battle, Montclair State had the advantage for the whole three-set match.
The Red Hawks had 10 more kills than the Colonels, which is exactly how many kills Higgins had in the match, and the way Higgins plays is remarkable.
Higgins also had three blocks in the match, so for a player of her caliber, already named New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Player of the Week, to be this strong in a crucial matchup is major for this team. She spoke about exactly how important senior leadership is.
“I am really privileged and honored to be able to come back another year, and be a role model for all of these kids,” Higgins said. “I hope they’re looking up to me and I hope I’m setting a good example. I just want to lead by example out there.”
Another player that was leading by example in the first match was St. Pierre, who had the top mark in assists with, get this, 26 of them in the match. The next highest number was sophomore libero specialist Katie Rodman with two. She highlights the key areas that helped the Red Hawks succeed in the tri-match.
“Our defense is playing really well right now and we hope that can continue throughout the season, but we got a couple of great players back here that are digging high and allowing us to be in transition and run really fast,” Rodman said.
In the second matchup of the day, the two opponents played each other, and it was clear that Baruch was the better team of the two with them beating Wilkes in a three-set win. But their high confidence would not last too long as they would set up to face the surging Red Hawks.
Again, each of the three sets they played was close on paper, but watching it in person or online, the Red Hawks were simply continuing the dominance they put on in the first match. Another nine kills from Higgins helped with that effort.
But sophomore outside hitter Skye Ramsey had the top mark for kills in that match with 10, and freshman middle blocker Mia Capriglione also had a few kills herself and a block in the match. Head coach Eddie Stawinski talked about how important their contributions have been so far this season.
“It’s huge because they’re playing on a high level right away and it speaks volumes about the type of players they are and how they’re going to help our team in multiple positions,” Stawinski said. “So the fact they’re playing this well, this early, with a brand new team is obviously a good sign.”
St. Pierre once again racked up 30 assists, a couple of aces and a block in the second matchup, and the Red Hawks’ stellar play was too much for Baruch to handle. Another three-set win. A sweep for Montclair State to start their home play. What can be better than that?
Another win, of course. This time against their first NJAC opponent of the season, the Cougars of Kean University at Union on Tuesday, Sept. 13.