MONTCLAIR, N.J. (11/5/15) – The Kean University women's volleyball team dropped a spirited NJAC semifinal matchup with Montclair State University 3-1 on Thursday night. Freshman Brett Harper had 15 kills to lead the Cougars, who fell to 21-17 on the year.
The Red Hawks scored seven of the first eight points in the match, and never looked back in a 25-15 opening set victory. Courtney Matlock had six kills in the opener to pace the Hawks, who hit .333 as a group. They also converted on 14-of-16 sideout opportunities.
With Sara Ridgway serving, Kean erased a five-point deficit in the second set. Rachael Wells had a solo block to get the Cougars within one. Another Ridgway serve that the Red Hawks never got a handle on tied the set at 10; it was the first time the match had been tied other than 0-0.
MSU got the next two, but the Cougars fought back to tie at 12. An incredible dig by Kean got the Cougars their first lead, 13-12; Montclair was already celebrating the point they thought for sure was down. Kassie Hernandez got a block on the next point to force the Red Hawks to call time.
As academic as the first set was, the second was as exciting. It was tied at 16, 17, 18 and 19 until Kean went up two at 21-19. But there the Montclair dominance re-emerged as they took six of the next seven and went up 2-0.
The Cougars dug a hole for themselves early in the third, but by the middle of the set Kean had knotted it at 12 on a kill by Harper. Kean turned to Harper (pictured left) again were rewarded with two-straight kills from the freshman to take a 14-12 lead.
The advantage grew to 21-16. Calli Scheuermann had an ace and both Ridgway and Myiah Gatling had three blocks in the run. Kean held on to take the third set 25-22. Harper finished with nine kills in the third, and the Cougar defense held Montclair to a negative-.043 attack percentage in the set. After one block combined in the first two sets, Kean had six stymies in the third.
The fourth set did not feature any late lead changes, but Kean was hot on the Red Hawks' heels throughout. It took a finally late rally for Montclair to put Kean away 25-21.
Lisa DeGroot led Kean with 23 digs, while the Red Hawks had five players with doube figures in that column. Montclair (18-13) out hit the Cougars .175-.088 and was led by Matlock's 19 kills. The Red Hawks will advance to the NJAC Championship game for the first time since 2009.
Kean will await the announcement of the ECAC Tournament due out early next week.