In a thrilling, made-for-film performance, the women's volleyball team overcame adversity in order to steal a victory from the Kean Cougars. The Roadrunners dropped two sets early, leaving them in the seemingly insurmountable position of needing to win three sets straight.
The Cougars came into the game with a superior record, 3-1 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference to Ramapo's 2-2, and a relentless assault right from the start. They were led by junior Jen Espinal, who racked up 12 kills, and senior Kaitliyn Hansen with 11, as well as sophomore Lisa DeGroot, who posted 21 digs. In the first set, Ramapo seemed completely overmatched and overwhelmed by the energy of the away team as well as their tenacity on the ball. Ramapo was defeated 25-12.
The Roadrunners were not discouraged, however, and in the second set they began to show signs of life. Tracking down the ball and returning serves became essential to their comeback intentions. Ramapo junior Sara Pendleton and sophomore Cathryn Smart lit a fire under the team with their contributions on offense, indisputably making the game a contest. Pendleton went on to tally 14 kills and five blocks, while Smart had 13 kills of her own along with six digs and two blocks. The momentum was beginning to shift in favor of Ramapo, but it was not enough to put down the sharp opposition as they snatched a nail-biting 26-24 victory.
"Our game versus Kean was definitely our best match yet. We all did our jobs and worked as a unit, which in the end gave us the big win that we were looking for," Pendleton said.
A spirited effort resulted in the Roadrunners inverting the score of the last set in their favor, 26-24, but it did not come without difficulty. Pendleton and Smart united again, racking up points in bunches with contributions from sophomore Kaitlin Mac Iver, who finished the game with a team-high 36 assists. This set consisted of back and forth action with one side desperately attempting to stay alive and the other hoping to get on the bus early with a win in their pocket.
With a win safely netted in their favor, Ramapo set their sights on the possibility of a comeback against rival Kean. Kean appeared lackadaisical and frustrated losing their last set and having to work incredibly hard for the previous set. Ramapo capitalized on this half-hearted attempt crushing the Cougars 25-10, certainly to the approval of coach Robert Pichardo.
"I was proud of how we came together. We're a young team and it is nice to see everyone united and reaching their full potential," said Ramapo sophomore Emily Harris.
The competitors found themselves at odds, both with two wins and both with little left in the tank. A true team effort and well-deserved momentum powered the Roadrunners in a competitive fifth set. Each team had to go deep into their bench in order to stay on point, but that made little difference to the tension and competitive spirit in the air. Harris led the defense with 17 digs to go along with her three assists. Defending their home court admirably, the Lady Roadrunners won 15-12 in an electrifying fifth set that they hope to build on, improving their record to 10-8 and 3-1 in the NJAC.