Montclair, NJ (8/16/11) – The Montclair State volleyball team was picked to finish in seventh place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll released on Tuesday.
The Red Hawks, who finished sixth a season ago, were picked behind three-time defending champion Richard Stockton, which topped the poll garnering eight of the nine first-place votes. Ramapo was second with one first-place vote followed by Rowan, Rutgers-Camden and William Paterson in spots three through five. Kean University, the “dark horse” pick was selected sixth with MSU, Rutgers-Newark and New Jersey City rounding out the poll.
New head coach Eddie Stawinski returns several players from last season’s squad, which made the NJAC Tournament for the sixth consecutive year in 2010. Leading that group is sophomore Kaitlyn Irwin (Cranford, NJ / Cranford), the NJAC Defensive Player of the Year and Second-Team selection. Irwin registered a single-season record 748 digs averaging 6.03 per set. She also added 44 service aces, which was tied for second on the team and had registered 17 kills. Fifteen times during the season, Irwin topped the 20-dig mark in a match and had five matches with 30-plus and two with 40 or more. Fellow classmate Marta Topor (Bogota, NJ / Bogota), an Honorable Mention selection, also returns after leading Montclair State in kills with 295 in addition to leading the team with 47 service aces, posting 290 digs and 15 total blocks.
Montclair opens its 2011 schedule on Friday, September 2 as its takes part in the Labor Day Invitational at New York University. MSU will play four matches in the first weekend and then make its home and NJAC debut on September 13 when they host Kean at the Panzer Athletic Center.