Southern, Pinelands Headed to SCT Volleyball Semifinals on Thursday

Match Set for 5 p.m. at Georgian Court University
Oct 25, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Southern Ocean County high school volleyball fans are super excited, and for a very good reason. The Pinelands Regional High School girls volleyball team will travel to Georgian Court University in Lakewood on Thursday to tangle with the Southern Regional High School Rams in a Shore Conference Tournament semifinal match scheduled to start at 5 p.m. If statistics don’t lie, fans should enjoy a fantastic match.

Southern, 24-5, is the tourney’s two-seed; Pinelands, 22-3, is seeded third. Southern is the Shore Conference A South champion; Pinelands shared the B South crown with Donovan Catholic. Southern hasn’t dropped a single set in SCT play; Pinelands hasn’t lost a match since Oct. 7. It certainly appears the teams are about as evenly matched as possible.

Southern advanced to the semifinals with a 25-22, 25-13 victory over Colts Neck, the tourney’s 10-seed, on Tuesday afternoon. Senior Lauren Cruse led the scoring at the net for Southern with eight kills. Freshman Stephanie Soares had a great all-round day, with 13 service points including three aces, 14 assists and nine digs.

A couple of hours later Pinelands beat Red Bank Catholic, the six-seed, 25-18, 25-22.

The Wildcats had tended toward slow starts in important matches this season. On Oct. 12, Pinelands visited Jackson Liberty for a match that basically salted away their B South co-title. The ’Cats prevailed, but they lost the first set, 17-25, before roaring back, 25-18, 25-13. Last Friday they dropped the first set in their opening-round SCT match against Brick Township, 17-25, before winning 25-22, 25-14.

That didn’t happen on Tuesday against RBC. The Wildcats broke out to a 13-3 lead over the Caseys in the first set and never looked back.

Pinelands was led by junior Kayla Thornton and her 15 kills, three blocks, 15 digs and six service points, including an ace. Senior Carly Jannsch was also a force, contributing 10 kills, 14 digs, six service points and two aces. Junior Cierra Seals was a monster at the service line once again, putting up 10 service points, half of which were aces. Senior Jessie Rising had 27 assists.

Pinelands had better get off to a good start again on Thursday because Southern is a good defensive team that you wouldn’t want to have to launch a comeback against.

The winner of the Pinelands-Southern match will square off against the winner of a match between the tournament’s top-seed, Wall, and its four-seed, Donovan Catholic, in a match that will start 30 minutes after the semis are concluded. Wall didn’t have an easy time of it on Tuesday. Sure, Wall prevailed over Toms River North, the eight-seed, in two sets. But they were close – 25-20, 29-27. Meanwhile, Donovan Catholic was on cruise control against Rumson-Fair Haven, the five-seed, winning 25-9, 25-23.

— Rick Mellerup


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