The Roadrunners looked to win the first NJAC Championship in school history and become the first NJAC team other than Stockton to win the NJAC Championship since 2007. The momentous game happened on Saturday, Nov. 5th, where Ramapo hosted No. 3 Montclair State University in the NJAC Championship match. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Roadrunners looked to win the first NJAC Championship in school history and become the first NJAC team other than Stockton to win the NJAC Championship since 2007. The momentous game happened on Saturday, Nov. 5th, where Ramapo hosted No. 3 Montclair State University in the NJAC Championship match. The winner received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Roadrunners got to the NJAC Championship match by defeating Kean University in the NJAC semifinals 3-1 (17-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-21), while Montclair advanced to the NJAC Championship match by defeated then eight-time defending champion Stockton 3-2 (17-25, 19-25, 25-23, 26-24, 15-10). This was also the Roadrunners’ first NJAC Championship game since 2011, the Roadrunners’ third NJAC Championship game overall, and the first time that the Roadrunners played the NJAC Championship game at home.
The Roadrunners went on to lose the NJAC Championship match 3-1 (20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 16-25), but despite the loss, the Roadrunners earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
Senior defensive specialist Natalia Saavedra said that Montclair had a stronger game plan offensively going into the championship match, and that the Roadrunners were not as strong as Montclair in all aspects of the game.
“Offensively, I think they came out stronger than we did,” said Saavedra. “In all aspects of the game, we didn’t play up to their level; they came out a lot stronger than we did.”
As usual, star outside hitter Larysa Iwaskiw led the Roadrunners in kills as she had 27 kills in the championship match. In addition to the 27 kills, Iwaskiw made a service ace, recorded an assist and collected 18 digs
Rookie outside hitter/defensive specialist Karina Almeda led all individuals on the Roadrunners with 20 digs, and Almeda made additional contributions in the kill and ace departments where she converted 11 kills and two aces.
Senior outside hitter Rachel Selmore led the Roadrunners in the assist category with 23 assists, and rookie setter Kate Shirkey was second in assists with 17.
In addition to the 17 assists that she distributed in the championship match, Shirkey collected six digs on defense. Other contributors include second-year libero/defensive specialist Kristen Behrens, who contributed 13 digs on the defensive side of the ball, senior middle blocker Emily Guzman, who had six kills and two blocks, and rookie middle blocker Samantha Main, who collected three blocks.
Then, Saavedra thought that the Roadrunners had to pick up the pace in the third set after losing the first two sets.
“I think we realized that because we had lost the first two, we really had to pick it up and play with fire because we were getting anxious,” said Saavedra. “If we lost the third match, we would have given up the game.”
Lastly, Saavedra expected the team to have a little excitement to go along with familiarity going into Friday’s NCAA Tournament matchup against Hunter College.
“Well, we’re a little excited. We’ve played them three times already this season, so because of that we feel like we have a little bit of an advantage,” said Saavedra. “We’re hoping that will help us come through and really just understand their tendencies.”
The Roadrunners’ first NCAA Tournament match in school history will occur this Friday at the Canavan Arena in Hoboken, New Jersey at 12:30 p.m. against Hunter College.