Women’s Volleyball finishes season with NJAC title and a bright future
By Craig Epstein | Published Jan. 29, 2018
In a year when they were picked to finish fourth and tabbed as the coaches’ dark horse selection, the Kean University women’s volleyball team proved to be much more than just an under-the-radar bunch. Led by ninth-year head coach Don Perkins, the Cougars captured their first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title since 2001.
Although they ultimately came up short against Johns Hopkins in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, Perkins and his squad were finally able to get over the hump and win the NJAC title after falling in the semifinals for five straight years.
“From day one we’ve set our goals high with this team and almost without exception they’ve met them,” Perkins said, who was awarded the 2017 Joy Solomen Coach of the Year. “It’s a very mature and talented team and it’s been a joy to work with them for the past three to four months.”
That same kind of sentiment was shared by many players on the team, including senior setter Kendall Sonico.
“I’m very proud of my team, they’ve come a long way from preseason until now,” Sonico said. “All of the sweat, tears and running put into our work finally paid off.”
Although Sonico’s collegiate volleyball career has come to an end, she still has a lot of hope for the program.
“I think it can go up from here,” Sonico said. “If we keep working and pursuing what we want to pursue then we should be ne.”
Finishing the year with an overall record of 28-11, the Cougars matched their 2012 season as the high-water mark for wins under Perkins. And with so many returning players, the future looks bright for Kean.
“I think our team accomplished so much this year and I could not be any more proud,” sophomore middle hitter Jesse Larkin said. “We had not won an NJAC title in over 10 years and it was our goal from the very beginning.”
Going into next season, the All-NJAC second team selection has her goals set even higher.
“For next year, I hope we can keep this streak going and win the NJAC title again, but this time make it even farther in the NCAA tournament.” Larkin said.