After a three-game slump, volleyball wins crucial NJAC matchup against Montclair

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A clean sweep at Ramapo College brought Rowan volleyball to an even 1-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference and to 10-4 for the season last Thursday.

Two days later, they were heartbroken by William Paterson at home, 16-14 in a fifth set. Next, came two straight losses in the Esbjornson Gymnasium last weekend at the Profs Tri-Match.

Sitting at 10-7 and on their first losing streak of the year since falling two in a row Sept. 1, the team hasn’t let the recent drought of wins take a hit on their mindset.

“Our mindset is still positive, I don’t think we’re beating ourselves up too much about things,” said head coach Deana Jespersen. “Right now, we’re in the process of thinking a lot as we’re playing tougher teams. That William Paterson loss is a hard one to swallow because we played really good ball and lost by two points. I think it took a lot out of them mentally and to try and rebound on Saturday was really hard. You could see they were wearing that loss still on their face and that’s where we need to grow and mature and move on.”

In the loss to the Pioneers, the Profs had an astounding 99 digs, their most in a game this year. Their 67 kills and 205 total attacks are top as well. The brown and gold were up 13-11 in the fifth and final set, but William Paterson outscored them 5-1 in the final six points to win 16-14.

“I definitely think it got us down a little bit in games after William Paterson,” said junior outside hitter and captain Megan Jacobi. “I think that kind of surprised a lot of us because we were coming out so good and had the best record in previous years. We’re not giving up.”

Jacobi had an unfamiliar game, tallying just six kills on a season-high 38 attacks.

And, after losing to Lebanon Valley College and Hunter College at the Tri-Match, the schedule doesn’t look like it’ll be giving Rowan a break soon.

“This is the hardest part of the season coming up,” Jespersen said. “We will play teams that are more difficult to beat. That’s just the nature of our schedule and we have to challenge those teams because it’s the only way to get better. ”

Rowan faced red hot NJAC opponent Montclair State University on Tuesday, who came into the contest winning three in a row, all by the score of 3-0. Two of those games were within the conference.

“We know what we need to do and we know exactly what it takes to win,” Jacobi said. “It’s up to us to know that we can do it and play our game.”

The Profs did just that, defeating the Red Hawks 3-1 to move to 11-7 overall and 2-2 in the NJAC. They’re now fourth in the conference, holding a tiebreaker over Montclair, who is now 2-2 as well. Jacobi had a season-high 12 kills, setters Alaina Santacrose and Tori Mock combined for 41 assists and Kristin Akin recorded her fourth consecutive game with double-digit digs.

Rowan heads to Glenside, Pennsylvania this weekend to face the University of Valley Forge and Arcadia University at 1 and 3 p.m.

Original reporting done by staff writer John DeBenedictis.

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