Montclair, N.J. (11/2/12) - Junior Kaitlyn Hansen collected 11 kills as fourth-seeded Kean made the plays when it counted most as the Cougars outlasted No. 5 Montclair State, 3-0 in the first round of the NJAC Tournament on Friday.
Kean, who came into the match without any practice time this week due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, won the match in three tightly-contested sets, 27-25, 28-26, 26-24.
Freshman Rachael Wells (pictured left) added eight kills for the Cougars (27-9), who now advance to the semifinals on Saturday, November 3 at Richard Stockton. Kean will play top-seeded Stockton at Noon with the second semifinals scheduled for 2 p.m.
The championship game will also be played on Saturday at 6 p.m. as the tournament was condensed to a one-day semifinal and final because of this week’s weather. Today’s match was originally scheduled for Tuesday at Kean, however a power outage in Union forced the game to be switched to MSU’s Panzer Athletic Center.
The winner of the NJAC Tournament earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship.
Senior Alyssa Batiste and sophomore Daniella Salemo had eight kills apiece for Montclair State, which completed its season at 22-11 with their second loss to the Cougars this year. MSU fell to Kean in four sets on September 11th.
MSU held a 10-6 lead in the first set before Kean used an 8-2 run taking a 14-12 lead on a kill by Hansen. The Red Hawks would tie the set again two points later and it would become a back-and-forth affair the rest of the way. Hansen had a kill for a 24-23 lead which was matched by Batiste tying the set for a 10th time. Aysia Peterson had a kill for a 25-24 lead however an attack error tied the set once again. The Red Hawks would give the point back on a service error and Kean would make it play as Wells put down a kill for a 27-25 and a 1-0 lead in the match.
The second set would be even closer with 15 ties, including a run of 22 alternating points. Tied at 15-15 neither team could get ahead until the final point of the set. Montclair would hold off two set points before Kean finished out the set on two serves by Alix Denison, the final on an ace as Kean led 2-0 with a 28-26 win.
Kean raced out to a 10-4 lead in the third set before Montclair State would chip away getting within 15-13 on a kill by freshman Nicole Wojtowicz. The Cougars tried to pull away and led 20-14 on a Hansen kill but the Red Hawks rallied with a 10-3 run, taking a 24-23 lead. MSU couldn’t close it out as an attack error tied the match and a second miscue gave Kean a 25-24 advantage. Hansen served up an ace on match point as Kean advanced with the three-set sweep.
Alana Aranjo had 29 assists and 10 digs for Kean while Amanda Gonzalez added six kills. Samantha Sacco led Kean with 12 digs while libero Katie Schuh chipped in with a team-best 12 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Jen Espinal added nine kills.