The number 4-seeded Roadrunners looked to begin a deep postseason run when they played host to 5th seed Rowan University in the first round of the NJAC Tournament on Tuesday at the Bradley Center in a playoff atmosphere. The Roadrunners came out victorious three sets to zero (25-9, 25-17, 25-13).
Roadrunners’ head coach Robert Pichardo felt that it was critical for the Roadrunners to be disciplined throughout the entire match.
“The whole season we’ve been focusing on ball control and more ball control,” said Pichardo.
The Roadrunners did a much better job at getting the serve back than Rowan in the first set, as the Roadrunners went 9-10 (90 percent) on sideout opportunities, while the Profs went just 8-24 (33 percent) on sideout opportunities.
The second set was a lot tighter since there were 13 tie-scores and six lead changes in the set.
The Roadrunners were not as effective in getting the serve back in the second set, as they went 11-17 (64 percent) on sideout opportunities, which was a 26 percent decrease from the first set.
Meanwhile, the Profs went 11-25 (43 percent) on sideout opportunities, which was a 10 percent increase from the first set. The Roadrunners started off the third set well, as middle blocker Emily Guzman gave the Roadrunners the early advantage with a kill of her own that was assisted by senior setter and co-captain Kaitlin Mac Iver.
The Roadrunners would go on to win the third set 25-13.
Ramapo’s all-time kills leader sophomore Larysa Iwaskiw, who became the first women’s volleyball player in Roadrunner history to record 1,000 kills in a career against Bard College last weekend, recorded 14 kills against the Profs.
Mac Iver made 31 total assists on the night.
Guzman went 9-20 on kill attempts on the evening with a kill percentage of .300.
Other players of note in this match include junior defensive specialist Natalia Saavedra, who had 10 digs to help propel the Roadrunner defense, Senior Captain Emily Harris who tallied three assists on seven attempts for a .429 assist percentage and sophomore defensive specialist/libero Sarah Mulligan, who led both teams with four service aces on 19 total serves during the match.
These contributions helped the Roadrunners win this match because they took some of the pressure off Larysa Iwaskiw since every opponent prepares for Ramapo with the mindset that all of the attention will be placed on the outside hitting powerhouse in Iwaskiw.
Guzman believed that serving tough allowed the Roadrunners to take complete control of the first set.
“When you serve tough and you throw the other team off their servicing and their defense, they can’t really put the ball away,” said Guzman.
Guzman also believed that Selmore attacked the ball aggressively, knowing that her teammates had her back.
“Our goal when any hitter goes up is to cover them, so even if she didn’t put the ball away, we would be right there to pick her up,” said Guzman. “We are always encouraging our teammates to go after the ball and to put the ball away every single time, so I think she went out there swinging knowing that we had her back every time.”
The Roadrunners return to action tomorrow when they travel to The Sports Center in Galloway, New Jersey to play seven-time defending champion Stockton University for the second time in nine days in the semifinal round of the NJAC Tournament.
The Roadrunners will need to make plays and minimize unforced errors in order to unseat top seeded Stockton, since one unforced error could mean difference between victory and defeat. In order to do that, the Roadrunners should keep their game basic and try not to do too much against the Ospreys.
They cannot make mistakes against Stockton because if they do, Stockton could make them pay.