Pinelands Regional Volleyball Coach Confident Despite Loss of Two Stars
The Pinelands Regional High School girls volleyball team certainly had a surprising season in 2015. After all, it was only the second year Pinelands was competing at the varsity level. But coach Kathy Bennett’s Wildcats posted a 17-8 record, finished second in Shore Conference B South by just one game behind Barnegat, was seeded 12th in the 32-team New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group 2 State Tournament and won a game in that tourney before falling to the five-seed, Pascack Hills.
The 2016 team will be without the services of the Mulligan twins, Jamie and Morgan, who now play their volleyball at Rutgers University-Camden. But those were the only players Bennett lost, and she’s excited about the coming season.
“We have a lot of young talent,” said the coach.
Indeed, she thinks Pinelands should be ranked the eighth best squad in the Shore Conference. The Wildcats ended up ranked 10th in the conference in 2015, so it is obvious she thinks this year’s squad will be not only as good as last season’s, but even better.
“We have strong returning members of the team along with some talented sophomore newcomers,” said Bennett.
Those returning members include outside hitters Sydney Burke, a senior, and Carly Jannsch, a junior, setter Jessie Rising, a junior, defensive specialist Jillian Williams, a junior, and middle blocker Kayla Thornton, a sophomore. The sophomores joining the team are libero Kati Coverdale, middle blockers Jaycee DeMaria and Alexa Houston and right hitter Cierra Seals.
Other members of the roster include defensive specialists Joanie Vasikonis and Tiffany Papa, right hitter Amanda DeFeo and setter Victoria Pickel.
Bennett figures Monsignor Donovan, Jackson Liberty and Barnegat will be her team’s toughest divisional foes this season.
It is interesting to note that only one of the 13 girls on the team, Burke, is a senior. If Bennett is realistic in her expectations for this year’s contingent and they do finish as the eighth-ranked team in 2016, just imagine the 2017 version!
— Rick Mellerup