The Montclair State women’s volleyball team was a strong favorite going into the 2019 season, rated third in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) preseason poll. Coming off of an NJAC championship appearance last season, there are high hopes for this year. With returning players like sophomore outside hitter and NJAC Rookie of the Year Carly Waterman, the team is sure to make an impact.
Last season the team went 20-10, and it looks as if they are only going up from here. Waterman as well as sophomore outside Leah Higgins are part of the key returners that will help the team succeed this season. Higgins totaled 223 kills last season while Waterman had 316, both turning heads in the NJAC. The graduation of key hitters such as right side Natalia Majkut will be a tough loss, but the youth and strength of the other hitters will keep this team where they need to be.
As for setting, the graduation of Ashley Griffith was a hard one, as she had 832 assists last season and totaled over three thousand in her career at Montclair State. Her strong setting made a huge impact on the team, but her loss will not take down the team as junior setter Megan O’Rourke has already started to prove that she will fill the shoes of Griffith quite easily.
Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Alexandra Campos will continue to keep the defense tight for the Red Hawks coming off a 327 dig season, and the addition of libero/defensive specialist Katelyn Monaghan will give Montclair State even more strength on defense.
The Red Hawks started off their 2019 season at the Springfield College Invitational on Aug. 30 and 31 with a win against Keene State College and losses to Springfield College and Skidmore College. Waterman totaled 12 kills on the first day while O’Rourke had a double-double with 24 assists and 10 digs. Despite this effort, the Red Hawks still fell to Springfield.
The next day proved to be better as the team defeated Keene State but fell to Skidmore College. The win was due to another strong effort by Waterman and O’Rourke. Waterman took control of the team with 13 kills in the first match and a double-double with 21 kills and 18 digs in the second, earning her an all-tournament team honor. Senior middle/outside hitter Jillian Wilson and senior outside hitter Schyler White had nine kills apiece, and O’Rourke totaled 34 assists.
Although it may not have been the start they had hoped for, they still have the whole season to prove they are championship worthy again. The performance by Waterman, O’Rourke and the rest of the team will show the NJAC that Montclair State is looking to go back to the championship. If the Red Hawks can overcome their strongest rivals Stockton University and two-time defending NJAC champions Kean University, as well as staying on top of the other NJAC teams, they will be on the road to victory.
The team will open at home in Panzer Athletic Center on Sept. 7 at the Montclair State triangular match including the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Stevens Institute of Technology. Their first NJAC match will be against defending champions Kean University on Sept. 17, a rematch of the 2018 NJAC finals.
Hopes are high for the Red Hawks and this season looks quite promising when looking at the strengths of the current team.