PHOTO TEST: Women’s volleyball advance to NJAC title match with win over Stockton

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For years, the Red Hawks have struggled to overcome the bump against the University of Stockton with their 2019 and spring 2021 seasons ending at the hands of the Ospreys in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament.

The Montclair State women’s volleyball team celebrates their victory.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Defensive specialist Sophia Marziello in the playoff game.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Defensive specialist Sophia Marziello in the playoff game.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

But ultimately, the Red Hawks defeated their demons with a resounding 3-0 sweep of Stockton on Thursday in front of a packed house at the Panzer Athletic Center, winning a road game against Rowan University for the NJAC Championship on Saturday.

Aubrey Rentzel (left) tries to make a volley as the Montclair State team watch.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Aubrey Rentzel (left) tries to throw a volley as the Montclair State team watch.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Center blocker Skylar Kowalski waits for the ball to come into play. John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Center blocker Skylar Kowalski waits for the ball to come into play.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

After a narrow victory in the Red Hawks’ first set, the turning point came in the second set. An ace-capped 10-2 run serving first rookie Libero / defensive specialist Katie Rodman gave them a 15-6 lead in the second set, as the Red Hawks would win that same set 25-16.

Gianna Arias (middle) anxiously watches the ball about to hit the ground.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Gianna Arias (middle) anxiously watches the ball about to hit the ground.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell watches the game from the crowd.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell (middle right) watches the game from the crowd.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

In the third set, Stockton trailed for most of it. However, while head captain Carly Waterman was out for the season due to injury, head forward Leah Higgins was the Red Hawks’ offensive anchor. Higgins would make two huge kills late in the set, as Montclair State would end the sweep with a 25-22 victory in the final set.

Number six outside hitter, Haley Green (left), hits the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Number six outside hitter, Haley Green (left), hits the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Charlotte Leon (left) and Leah Higgins (right) both search for the ball in play. John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Charlotte Leon (left) and Leah Higgins (right) both search for the ball in play.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Higgins finished with eight kills, leading both teams. Senior / right wing passer Delaney St. Pierre would finish with 24 assists in the game, delivering great assists to her teammates all the time.

Delaney St. Pierre searches for the ball as members of both teams watch.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Delaney St. Pierre catches the ball as members of both teams watch.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

Number six outside hitter, Haley Green (left), hits the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game.  John LaRosa |  The Montclarion

Number six outside hitter, Haley Green (left), hits the ball over the net before it is blocked by Delaney St. Pierre (middle top), ending the game.
John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The Red Hawks’ victory in the NJAC semifinals marks the second consecutive trip to the NJAC championship game for the program, as they hope to secure their first conference championship since 2016 against the Rowan Profs.

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