The Roadrunners battled with the Montclair Red Hawks through five sets on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the New Jersey Athletic Conference Women’s Volleyball Championship Tournament semi-final against six-time defending champion Richard Stockton.
Ramapo prevailed 3-2 (15-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-18, 15-10) coming up with huge wins in the fourth and fifth sets while facing elimination after losing a hard fought third set that was tied 22-22 before Montclair pulled ahead.
“We knew that going into the playoffs, it’s anybody’s game, so you can’t be over confident,” said Ramapo head coach Robert Pichardo, who has taken his team to the NJAC tournament in each of his 10 seasons as head coach. “We know we were going to face certain situations, gladly we came out on top.”
The Roadrunners were led offensively by freshman Larysa Iwaskiw with 19 kills in the match, but also had major contributions from juniors Katelyn Ward and Cathryn Smart, sophomores Emily Guzman and Rachel Selmore, junior captain Kaitlin Mac Iver and freshman Amanda Rose pitching in with 10, nine, six, five, four, and one kills respectively.
The Roadrunners also made several valiant defensive plays in the game to keep their season going, as sophomore Irmak Dagistanli led the team with 36 digs. Iwaskiw had 22 digs of her own, while Mac Iver, junior captain Emily Harris and sophomore Natalia Saavedra each had 10 of their own.
Mac Iver said that her team was able to stay together and focus on working as a unit when they were down in the match, which allowed them to come out with the win.
“I definitely tried to get our volume up because as long as we are together and we are working as a team, as long as we are as a unit, and everybody wants it, we will definitely win,” Mac Iver said.
The Roadrunners were able get pay back for their last two games against Montclair, a 3-1 loss on Sept. 30 and a three set sweep at the hands of the Red Hawks in the first round of last year’s NJAC tournament which sent the Roadrunners home early.
“When you know that you can win that match, we knew we had to come back and show we’re that kind of caliber team,” Pichardo said.
The Roadrunners will now take on Richard Stockton in the NJAC Women’s Volleyball Championship Tournament Semi-Final. Stockton has won seven of the last eight NJAC Championships and had not lost a NJAC game since 2009 until last week.
Ramapo stunned Stockton in the final NJAC game of the regular season with a three set sweep, earning the Roadrunners first victory against the Ospreys since 1998.
“We’re not changing anything. As long as we can stay disciplined and know that we can do what were supposed to be doing when we are in system, we should be fine,” said Pichardo.
The Ramapo women’s volleyball team has not won the NJAC tournament championship since the team first stepped on the court in 1978; however, this does not deter the team from visions of championship glory.
If the Roadrunners advance past Stockton, they will play the winner of the Kean University and Rowan University match on the other side of the tournament bracket in the NJAC championship game.
“This is our year,” Mac Iver said.