Rowan University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Rowan University press release/August 29, 2013
Senior leadership. Those two words epitomize the 2013 Rowan University women’s volleyball team. With eight seniors, the Profs are looking to not just make the conference tournament for the seventh straight year, but to win the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship and move on to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
“We are led by eight incredible seniors,” said Libby Ranero, who is entering her 12th season as the Profs head coach. “There were some growing pains during their freshman year, but they all got to be starters and they all have gotten valuable playing time and are now the team leaders.”
In 2012, the Profs went 22-9, their best record in recent memory. They earned a bye in the first round of the NJAC tournament, but fell to Rutgers-Camden in five sets in the semifinals. The seniors know that this is their last shot and they are not going to let it slip away.
“There has been a sense of urgency since the end of last year,” commented Ranero. “The whole team is hungry for a championship. The chemistry this season is great and it’s a good feeling to know that everyone is on the same page.”
All-NJAC performers Nicole Ciandella (Hoboken, NJ/Roselle Catholic) and Morgan Mende (Glen Rock, NJ/Glen Rock) will be a key to the Profs’ success. Ciandella, a senior, had 257 digs and also recorded 12 blocks. Ciandella also led the NJAC in assists with 9.30 per set. As a freshman, Mende accumulated 205 kills, 50 digs and 53 blocks.
Danielle Havlicek (Midland Park, NJ/Midland Park) came on strong at the end of the 2012 campaign and ended the season with 94 kills, 83 digs, 10 service aces and 16 blocks. Seniors Casey Grasso (Wilmington, DE/Alexis I. duPont) and Lauren Ruffalo (Marlton, NJ/Cherokee) are strong defensively. Grasso had 248 digs, while Ruffalo led the team with 419 digs and also had 26 service aces. She was third in the NJAC with 4.03 digs per set.
The Profs begin the 2013 campaign with four matches at the Virginia Wesleyan Invitational on August 30th and 31st. Rowan will make their its appearance in Esby Gym on Saturday, September 14th as the team hosts a tri-match with Immaculata University and Washington College. The NJAC schedule gets underway on September 19th at defending NJAC Champion Richard Stockton College.
The NJAC home opener will be on September 24th against Rutgers-Newark. The regular season will conclude on October 29th with a trip to New Jersey City University.
The top six regular season finishers advance to the 2013 NJAC Championship Tournament, which begins with first round action on Tuesday, November 5. The semifinals will be conducted on Thursday, November 7, and the league championship match will be played at the site of the highest remaining seed on Saturday, November 9. The winner of the NJAC Tournament receives the conference's automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.