Kean Women's Volleyball is beginning to assert themselves as a consistently successful entity in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
Returning from a stellar 28-11 (8-0 NJAC) 2017 campaign, the Cougars ascended to form once again in 2018. They posted a 19-16 (6-2 NJAC) record and recorded back-to-back NJAC Tournament Championships, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Tournament both seasons.
Boasting an 11-2 record at Harwood Arena, Kean asserted their dominance particularly in home court settings. However, the run to the NCAA Tournament did not come without hardship and patience.
After losing six of their last seven games leading up to the NJAC Tournament, the Cougars turned things around drastically, not dropping a single set in the entire conference tournament (9-0), defeating William Paterson University, Rowan University and Montclair State University in the process.
All-American middle hitter, All-NJAC Honorable Mention Selection, AVCA All-Region Selection and Cougar's Byte Staff Writer Zoe Strozewski touched upon the sudden shift in mentality of the Cougars going into post-season play.
"We were unhappy with the way we were playing and expected more of ourselves, so going into [NJACs] we wanted to get it right," Strozewski explained. "We were disciplined and determined to get back to the [NJAC] final and win it, because it was our goal from day one."
Through the stellar play of five All-NJAC selections and two All-Americans, Strozewski and her fellow teammates delivered on their personal goal.
The previously mentioned All-NJAC selections are as follows:
- Vikki Stec- Senior, Elmwood Park, NJ, Outside Hitter, All-NJAC First Team
- Jesse Larkin- Junior, Redwood City, CA, Middle Hitter, All-NJAC First Team *AVCA All-American
- Brianna Calvano- Junior, Williamstown, NJ, Setter, All-NJAC Honorable Mention
- Brett Harper- Senior, Vero Beach, FL, Outside Hitter, All-NJAC Honorable Mention
- Zoe Strozewski- Sophomore, Mount Prospect, IL, Middle Hitter, All-NJAC Honorable Mention *AVCA All-American
Unfortunately, as all good things come to an end, the Cougars lost their opening first round NCAA Tournament match in Providence, Rhode Island to the Cardinals of Wesleyan University in Connecticut in three sets to one.
Regardless of the season’s final outcome, Strozewski remained optimistic about her second season and is looking forward to the future of Kean’s volleyball program.
“I’m just proud that we picked a goal and stuck to it,” Strozewski reflected. “Plus, we had five award winners!"
The Cougars will open next season with confidence, looking to garner three consecutive NJAC Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances, which would add to an already stellar resume.
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