The Roadrunners women’s volleyball team looked to unseat the now eight-time defending champion Stockton University Ospreys and advance to the NJAC Championship round that was played this past Saturday for a chance to earn their first NJAC Championship in school history. The Roadrunners were on the losing end of a five-set match that was an instant classic, as they fell to Stockton three sets to two (15-25, 25-19, 26-24, 17-25, 15-17).
Eleven-year head coach Robert Pichardo felt that the Roadrunners needed to have a never-give-up attitude throughout the match.
“Our plan was intact, and it was pretty much manageable to win. We had planned it; we went in with a headstrong attitude to attack what we needed to attack,” said Pichardo.
Ramapo was off to a slow start, as the Roadrunners fell behind and did not have a lead in the first set. Stockton proved to be overpowering in the first set, since the Roadrunners were plagued by poor defense and mental errors early on.
However, the Roadrunners played better in the second set; they had a cleaner game with fewer errors. In the second set, the two teams traded points in the early going, and at one point they were tied at 14. But from that point forward, the Roadrunners were to make the plays they were unable to make in the first set. As a result, the Roadrunners were able to win the second set and tie the match at one game apiece.
The third set was a nail-biter, as Ramapo and Stockton matched each other blow-for-blow, but the Roadrunners were able to close out the victory in the third set 26-24 to take the lead two games to one.
The Roadrunners looked out of sync in the fourth set, as their defense and their attack were not as effective as they were in the third set, while Stockton began to click as well as they did in set one.
These factors allowed Stockton to take the fourth set 25-17 and to tie the sets at two apiece. The fifth set was another back and forth battle that had the hostile and rowdy crowd on its feet. Stockton led 5-2 before the Roadrunners scored six straight points to take the lead 8-5.
From that point forward, the two teams would trade points to end up in a 15-15 tie before Stockton scored two points to seal the match and their bid to an eighth straight championship match, which they won for the eighth consecutive time.
Outside hitting powerhouse, Ramapo’s all-time kills leader and potential future Ramapo Athletic Hall of Famer Larysa Iwaskiw led both teams with an unbelievable and season high 40 kills on 85 attempts with a .341 kill percentage to go with 16 digs and two service aces. Other players of note include middle blocker Emily Guzman, who had 11 kills on 35 attempts for a .200 kill percentage, in addition to six digs and a service ace, outside hitter Rachel Selmore, who had 11 kills on 37 attempts for an .081 kill percentage, and defensive specialist Natalia Saavedra, who had 15 digs and two assists.
Senior co-captain Kaitlin Mac Iver felt that the Roadrunners settled into their surroundings in games two and three.
“After our first set it was like a pretty good warm up to kind of get our tendencies down and get into a rhythm, and then once we got the rhythm down, two and three, I think set two Stockton kind of took a step back and they weren’t expecting us to come out so hard, and then set three, same thing except they’re trying a little harder, but we just made less errors,” said Mac Iver.
Sophomore defensive specialist/libero Sarah Mulligan felt that there wasn’t too much pressure in set three, which helped the Roadrunners take that game in the set.
“I think there was some pressure but not to the point where it affected our gameplay,” said Mulligan. “There is always pressure in the game to do your best and every point matters so as long as you look at that as just letting them make the mistake instead of us.”
The lady Roadrunners earned the no. 1 seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) champsionship tournament, and they will be taking on no. 5-seeded Alfred State on Saturday at the Bradley Center at noon.
The winner of that game will take on the winner of no. 2-seeded Kean University and no. 3-seeded Manhattanville College in the ECAC championship matchup at the Bradley Center later on that Saturday at 4 email@example.com