Pinelands, Southern Headed to State Semis in Girls Volleyball

Nov 07, 2018

The girls of the 2018 Pinelands Regional volleyball team must watch reruns of “Star Trek” because they are boldly going where no Pinelands volleyball team has gone before.

Meanwhile, the Southern Regional girls volleyball team has returned to heights it grew accustomed to occupying in the first decade of this century.

Both teams have advanced to the semifinals of their respective New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association group tournaments, the former in Group 2 play, the latter in Group 4.

Pinelands, the four-seed in the Group 2 dance, will travel to Rutherford, the tourney’s top seed, for a match that will tip off at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The Rams, their tourney’s two-seed, will entertain Ridgewood, Group 4’s six-seed, in a match that will tip off in the Southern 11/12 gym, also at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. If the local teams are successful they’ll advance to their group’s championship match on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Pinelands crushed its first round opponent, 29th-seeded Science Park, in the opening round of tournament play, 25-6, 25-9.

The Wildcats had to play three sets in the second round against Vorhees, the 13-seed. They won the first set, 25-19, but lost the second, 23-25. Pinelands dominated the third set, 25-9.

That win set up a quarterfinal match against Pascack Hills, the tourney’s five-seed. The ’Cats rolled over the Indians in the first set, 25-15. They took 7-3 and 18-12 leads in the second set but then stumbled, with Pascack Hills knotting the score at 23 and giving its fans, who had driven for two hours to attend the match, some hope the long drive had been worth it. Junior outside hitter/middle blocker Emmma Capriglione had allowed the visitors to tie the score when she tipped the ball into the net. Capriglione more than made up for her unforced error, recording two straight kills, the last a deep beauty that salted the match away. Senior Kayla Thornton had a dozen kills for the Wildcats and added seven service points, as did Capriglione and senior Cierra Seals. Junior Brittney Houseworth led the defense with seven digs.

Southern destroyed Union City, their tourney’s 34-seed, in the opening round, 25-6, 25-8.

The Rams then only needed two sets to move past 15th-seeded Union, 25-19, 25-16.

That brought up Williamstown, seeded seventh in the tourney. The Rams and Braves had met before this season, on Sept. 15, in Williamstown. That match hadn’t gone well for Southern, which fell, 24-26, 26-28.

Well, the fairly young Southern team had upped its game in the intervening months. The Rams got off to a good start, winning the first set, 25-18. But they lost the second set, 20-25. Then the Southern girls showed their mettle, easily dispatching the Braves, 25-12, in the third set. Southern was led at the net by junior Gianna Schiattarella with 14 kills, at the service line by senior Zoe Deakyne, who had 10 service points, and on the defense by senior Jess Sprankle, who recorded 10 digs.

The ’Cats will have their hands – oops, claws – full against Rutherford. The Bulldogs have racked up a 28-1 record. Of course Pinelands is no can of corn with its 27-2 record.

Pinelands and Rutherford have had two common opponents along the course of the 2018 season. Both squads beat Manchester twice, with Pinelands winning, 25-9, 25-8, the first time around and 25-10, 25-7 in their second match. Rutherford also treated Manchester to two maulings, the first being of a 25-4, 25-4 nature and the second being a 25-6, 25-3 slap-down. Rutherford faced Wall once in 2018, in a Group 2 quarterfinal match, and emerged as a 25-14, 25-13 winner. Pinelands tangled with Wall twice, winning, 26-24, 25-20 in the regular season and 25-11, 22-25, 25-12 in the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.

Ridgewood comes into its match against Southern with a 23-3 record while the Rams have had a 30-4 campaign. They both defeated a common opponent, Fair Lawn. Ridgewood won, 25-20, 25-19; Southern prevailed, 25-11, 25-21.

— Rick Mellerup 


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