This past weekend, the Rowan volleyball team took a trip along the coast to John Hopkins University for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championship Tournament.
Rowan, considered a “dark horse” by junior libero Simone Sparano, finished their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) run on an eight-game winning streak, capturing the NJAC Championship. They then had to readjust themselves for the first round of the NCAA tournament to face off against the 22-7 Pride of Springfield University in Baltimore.
Springfield was highly productive in the first set as they vehemently outnumbered Rowan’s kill total of eight by registering 15 kills of their own and finished with a .300 hitting percentage as they won the set 25-16.
Rowan seniors and Co-Captains Natalie Ogden and Cassidy Abdalla combined for only three kills in that set.
The second set was the first sign of Rowan’s life. They began the set on a 4-0 run which included a service ace by serving specialist, Jackie Camponelli, a junior. The Profs would remain hot as they forced Springfield to take their first timeout of the contest, starting a 3-0 run, in which Ogden recorded her third and fourth kills of the tournament’s opening match.
“Just playing with Nat, she’s such a good player on all aspects of the game,” setter Brooke Adams, a freshman, said. “You know if she’s in the front row she’s going to get a good hit and a kill and if she’s in the back row she’s gonna get the ball up. And she just brings an energy to the court that makes everyone better.”
Rowan went on two more runs as they would take care of business in this set, defeating the Pride 25-20.
The third set was a different story for Rowan. They took the lead early as they went to 4-1 but Springfield would come back to make it 4-4 and took the lead themselves. They would not give back this lead as they would take the third set 25-12.
In the fourth set, Rowan didn’t let the fact that they were trailing take them out of the game, as their key players would help lead them to a 25-23 set victory to tie the match back up at 2-2.
Rowan went into the fifth set seeking their ninth consecutive win and a second-round matchup against the host John Hopkins University Blue Jays. Despite a couple kills from Abdalla, the Profs were unable to overcome Springfield as they would drop the fifth set 15-9 and the match 3-2.
It may have not been the ending they hoped for but the Profs were still very successful. They had a winning percentage of .818, won all of their home games, conference games and recorded a final record of 27-6.
Adams hopes her role on the team only continues to grow throughout her years here.
“I hope I have the same role on the team next year,” Adams said. “Maybe, even a bigger one being a sophomore, not a freshman.”
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