Barnegat Leader

Bengals in Mix for Girls Volleyball B South Title

Sep 21, 2018

The 2018 Shore Conference B South girls volleyball race is shaping up to be a marathon.

It isn’t surprising that Pinelands and Donovan Catholic were expected to be the prime contenders for a B South title this season. After all, they were the B South co-champs in 2017 with identical divisional records of 13-1, with their only losses coming to each other. And they met in the Shore Conference Tournament final, with Pinelands winning, 26-24, 13-25, 27-25.

But it could be a four-way race this year because Barnegat and Jackson Liberty may be players as well.

“We expect to have a competitive season and close matches with Mon Don (Monsignor Donovan, the former name of Donovan Catholic) and Pinelands,” said Barnegat head coach Karla Jennings at the beginning of the season.

Well, in the first case Jennings was proven right on Sept. 10. Yes, the Bengals lost in two sets to Donovan Catholic, but they were tough sets, with Barnegat falling 23-25, 21-25. Meanwhile Barnegat rolled over three other B South opponents in early season play, soundly defeating Lakewood, 25-15, 25-18, and crushing Manchester, 25-13, 25-14, and Point Pleasant Beach, 25-12, 25-6.

The deadline for this article was too early to report on the Bengals match against a visiting Pinelands squad on Sept. 18, but it was already clear that Donovan Catholic (3-0 in divisional play as of September 17), Pinelands (4-1, with its one loss a tight 22-25, 22-25 affair at Donovan Catholic), Barnegat (3-1) and Jackson Liberty (4-1, with a 23-25, 19-25 loss to Pinelands) were the cream rising to the top of B South play.

That Barnegat is in the B South mix isn’t shocking. After all, the Bengals were B South champs in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Alas, graduations hit the Bengal program hard in 2016 and 2017, with the team slipping to the middle of the B South pack.

Jennings, though, thinks the Bengal ship will be righted this season, thanks to a good mixture of senior leadership and underclass talent.

“Gilana Fitzmaurice (a junior middle blocker) will provide great offense as both a hitter and a blocker, and Veronica Tikhomirova (a sophomore outside hitter) and Lauren Walters (a senior middle blocker) should provide additional fire power. Both Kara Ferigno (the team’s senior setter) and Molly McEneaney (a senior libero) are strong at their respective positions. The team should have a solid season.”

The remaining Barnegat roster is an intriguing mix of seniors and underclasswomen. Defensive specialists Haley Kozemko and Emma Rush represent the senior class. Junior Kristen Pavese is an opposite hitter/middle blocker. The sophomore contingent is large, consisting of Kaya Foy, an opposite hitter/outside hitter; Morgan Giaccone, a setter/opposite; Julianna Padilla, a defensive specialist; and Juliana Viola, yet another opposite hitter. Patria Moreno, an outside hitter/defensive specialist, is the lone member of the Class of 2022.  —R.M.



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