Tuckerton Leader

Pinelands Girls Volleyball Ready to Defend Shore Conference Title

Sep 07, 2018

What a year the Pinelands Regional High School girls volleyball team had in 2017!

It went 26-4, shared a B South title with a 13-1 record, won the Shore Conference Tournament, advanced to the third round of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Group 2 State Tournament where it fell to River Dell (the second-best squad in the state), and ended up ranked the fifth-best Group II team in the entire state. Not bad for a program only in its fourth year!

Now, the Press of Atlantic City’s 2017 Player of the Year, Carly Jannsch, has graduated, as has All-Shore First Team setter Jessie Rising. But head coach Kathy Bennett is sure her squad will be in the thick of all things again this season.

“Pinelands should be ranked in the Top 3 in the preseason Top 10 in the Shore,” said Bennett. “After finishing first last year and winning the Shore Conference Tournament, the team returns seven experienced seniors and four juniors. They have a talented team that looks to repeat as Shore Conference champions and go far into the state tournament.”

Bennett expects Donovan Catholic of Toms River, as usual, to be her girls’ toughest competition in B South play, while Wall and neighboring Southern Regional are other potential roadblocks in the Shore Conference.

The Wildcats’ key players include senior outside hitter/middle blocker Kayla Thornton, junior middle blocker Sharon Benson, junior outside hitter/middle blocker Emma Capriglione, junior libero/defensive specialist Brittney Houseworth, senior libero/defensive specialist Tiffany Papa and senior right hitter Cierra Seals.

Senior setter Victoria Pickel, junior defensive specialist Adrianna Dancisin, sophomore outside hitter/right hitter Oliva Anderson, senior middle blocker/right hitter Alexa Houston, senior defensive specialist Kati Coverdale and senior middle blocker/right hitter Jaycee DeMaria complete the roster.

This writer covered the team’s Shore Conference Tournament semifinal match against Southern Regional and the title match against Donovan Catholic, saying the three teams “played the most exciting volleyball that night fans are likely to see for a long, long time.”

The Wildcats beat the Rams 23-25, 26-24, 25-21 and Donovan Catholic 26-24, 13-25, 27-25.

True, Jannsch was the team’s inspirational vocal leader in the tourney. She also racked up 
14 kills and 16 service points, including nine aces, against Southern and seven kills and 23 digs against Donovan Catholic. But she was far from a one-woman show. Thornton recorded a dozen kills against Southern to go along with 18 digs; nine service points, including two aces; three blocks; and an assist. Thornton also had a team-leading nine kills against Donovan Catholic, on top of 16 digs and nine service points, two of which were aces. Seals had a great all round game against Southern with three kills, four assists, four service points including an ace, and two digs. Meanwhile Capriglione and Houston formed a brick wall at the net against the Rams, with four blocks each. Capriglione was a monster against Donovan Catholic as well, with 10 blocks, while Papa contributed 16 digs.

It would be tough for any team to make up for the loss of Jannsch and Rising. But this squad may be equipped to do so, leading to another very interesting year for volleyball at Pinelands.

— Rick Mellerup


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