Rowan volleyball clinches playoff spot, turn sights to weekend tournament

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Seniors Rebecca Dantonio, Erica O’Hagan, Kat Wolf and Jennifer Vorel were honored before the volleyball game on Tuesday, before the team went on to qualify for the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament in November.

The brown and gold swept William Paterson in three straight sets, winning 25-12, 25-18 and 25-20. With a win, Rowan moves to 4-4 in-conference and is one of the top-six teams needed to qualify.

Outside hitter Kailey Gallagher was outstanding, tallying a team-high 14 kills and five blocks. Megan Jacobi and Maura Francis combined for 21 kills. Setters Katelyn Paxson and Wolf each recorded 22 assists.

Rowan’s defense was superb, with Dantonio and O’Hagan contributing half the team’s 60 digs.

Acknowledging this was their last time in the Esbjornson Gymnasium, the seniors made sure their season would continue on a high note. Qualifying for the tournament was one thing, but playing to represent Rowan at home one last time was something special.

“It’s definitely the push that we needed. It’s so sad that it’s the last time that I’ll be playing in this gym, but I wouldn’t want it any other way,” O’Hagan said. “I’m so excited to take this win, and go into the playoffs now with some good energy and these girls for one last time.”

The four seniors played well together this year, three of which have been together for all four of their years at Rowan University. O’Hagan, Dantonio and Vorel have been with the brown and gold since 2013, with Kat Wolf being a transfer from Neumann University. Wolf has played spectacularly for the Profs, giving them another defensive presence, along with the ability to set hitters up as well.

The experience the four girls bring along with them will certainly be a factor going into the tournament.

“It’s going to bring a lot of passion, especially knowing that it’s the last time we will be on the court playing [sixes] for real,”  Dantonio said. “I think what we’ve been focusing on is playing with passion and heart. That will play into the tournament because we know these are our last games, and they end when we make them end.”

Rowan has three more games before the tournament starts. They will travel to New York this upcoming weekend to face Buffalo State College, Stevens Institute of Technology and Nazareth College in the New York Regional Challenge.

“I think that going into this weekend, we have to focus on just playing really good ball like we did tonight,” Dantonio said. “Doing our jobs individually to work together as a team will be important. Win or lose, we want to build some momentum going into the tournament.”

Rowan’s volleyball team have their NJAC tournament showdown against fourth-seeded Kean University Cougars on Nov. 1 in Union, New Jersey.

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