Saturday, September 18, 2021

DESPITE OFFENSIVE OUTPUT, VARSITY DROP 2-0 DECISION TO RAHWAY

 


The Summit Lady Hilltoppers took on Rahway as the feature match-up of the day in the Go4theGoal event at SHS.  The Hilltoppers entered the match versus the Rahway Indians very confident in what they had been able to do for the past week.  Summit out-dueled Cranford,  was dominant over ALJ and were the stronger team late against Linden,  the then division #2,  to go on a 3-0 run in a week.  The squad was confident that 4 wins was realistic and reachable against the Rahway squad.  But,  as with any match in any sporting event,  the games are not played on paper and teams and individuals still have to execute to win.  In set one,  the result was more of a case of the Hilltoppers not executing the serve.  In set 2,  Rahway executed all phases brilliantly while SHS could not pass well enough to match the Indian service game.  Result, a 2-0 loss that saw the Hilltoppers out-kill Rahway 17-13 but Summit created a combined 14 serving and fault errors compared to Rahway's 6,  in essence,  the difference in the match.  SHS passed at a mere 1.48 thanks to a 1.09 set 2 number while Rahway reached a 1.79 for the match.

 The first two plays of set one was a service error and a net touch call from the Hilltoppers that became the theme of the set for the home side.  SHS got kills from Zoe Zacharias and Julia Nardino to knot the set at 2 and that offensive production was also a staple of the set and match for the Top.  Rahway saw themselves,  perhaps unexpectedly,  ahead 6-3 early but Vivian Roberts hit for 2 kills and added a block and Hope Basaman continued her ace game along with a Nardino which had the Hilltoppers back up by 1 at 8-7.  This started to feel like a turnaround but the SHS squad followed that up with a series of hitting and serving errors that prevented the team from going on a dominant run despite the multiple free ball opportunities and had a mere 1 point lead at 13-12.  At this point of the set,  critical plays define the outcome and Summit looked like they had found that moment.

A hitting error by the Indians opened the door and Roberts burst through it with 2 kills and the Top looked like they were starting to gain full control up by 4 at 16-12.  But a service error followed which triggered a hitting error and a net touch fault call that saw that lead evaporate.  Yet again Roberts asserted herself and another kill got the ball back with the lead yet again but that was short lived and,  despite kills by Nardino and Roberts,  Summit was staring at a 20-20 score line by rotation 7.  A tough back row attack call,  a Rahway ace and kill had the Hilltoppers up against the wall down 23-20.  The Indians opened the door for a comeback with a service error and Sarah Noa took advantage with an ace but the Top lost the serve again with a miss and,  despite a must have, set saving kill by Basaman,  the team missed its serve on set point and set one went to Rahway, 25-23.

Summit out-killed the Rahway squad 11-5,  tied in blocks 1-1 and out-aced them 3-2 for a 15-8 score but,  as the first 2 points of the set foreshadowed,  SHS had 6 hitting errors, 7 serving errors and 4 faults called, giving the Indians 17 points while Rahway notched only 8 error points.  

Summit might have proven they were the more offensive team but it had also played right into Rahway's game plan of keeping balls alive long enough to have Summit commit an error and look to get key kills and aces at key moments.  The task was simple for the Hilltoppers.  Could the team rally?

Ally Lipshitz and Aya Laws were inserted into set 2 in order to spark the squad and find some serving consistency but the start of the set was once again an auspicious one.  A hitting error started it off after a perfect pass by Thea Rind that led to an Alison Wauters swing that was brilliantly dug by Rahway.  Rind thwarted the subsequent Indian attack but a hitting error by SHS followed and despite the defensive execution,  Summit got no reward.  An apparent Eva Oberhuber kill was over-ruled by the head ref and the Hilltoppers were down 2-0.  The call affected the team as the squad quickly felt like things were going against them and the Top followed up with a receive error and a free ball return error to stare at a 4-0 deficit.  The next few rotations were not much better for SHS and the only thing that seemed to help their cause was 2 consecutive service errors.  Despite that,  Summit still trailed 7-2.  The team then looked for Roberts for some stability and she provided it with a tip kill into the block and the Maroon and White found themselves within striking distance at 4-7 but it was clear that the passing was not where it needed to be at this point, a concern that became a worry as the set moved along.  

Rahway then tallied 6 of the next 7 points off 2 Rahway kills, a Hilltopper service error and 3 consecutive aces off 2 Hilltoppers that saw the home team go from a 7-4 deficit to a 13-5 deficit in a matter of 5 minutes.  SHS needed a spark and Nardino provided a brief flash with a kill which she followed up with an ace.  Oberhuber blocked down an Indian offensive attempt and just like that,  SHS had won 3 of 4 points.  Could the comeback be starting?

Unfortunately,  2 serve reception errors,  a blocking error and a Rahway kill later,  Summit was staring at a ginormous hole trailing 18-8.  Down 20-10,  things looked almost inevitable but,  yet again in the set,  Nardino just kept producing the sparks that the home team hoped would turn into a comeback with a kill and a presence at the net that forced Rahway into 2 hitting errors which cut the lead to 20-13.  Another SHS service error extinguished that run but Roberts hit for another kill to put the Hilltoppers in a position to see the light at the end of the tunnel,  down 21-14.  But the defense and passing that had struggled all 2nd set reared its head again and the Top had 2 dig errors and allowed another couple of aces which ended all hopes and led to a 25-14 upset win by Rahway.  

Despite the loss,  some silver linings ahead.  Rebekah Thompson returns Monday against Oak Knoll which should get the Summit squad close to its starting serve receive rotations.  Roberts continued her torrid attack numbers with another 7 kills (53.9 kill %) and a .385 hitting efficiency.  But more hopeful was the emergence of Nardino on offense as she made the most of her opportunities with 5 kills on 11 attempts and no errors (45.5 kill% and .455 efficiency) and chipped in with a perfect 5/5 from the service line with 2 aces.  Noa was a defensive factor with 12 digs and the pairing with Thompson come Monday should make the team stronger on receive and defense.  Noa was also the team leader on serve receive going 15/16 safe passes,  giving up only 1 ace,  a team leading pass rating of 1.88 while also notching 6 perfect passes for a team leading 37.5% perfect pass.


TRENDS AND PERSPECTIVE:

Although Summit took the loss,  the squad has rebounded nicely from its injuries and adjusted marvelously despite the numerous lineup changes the past 7 days (4 matches).  Since the GL match,  the team has gone 3W-1L.  Basaman and Noa lead the team with 13 and 11 aces respectively and a 2.66 and 2.10 serve rating.  Despite the tough serving game yesterday,  the squad has served at a 2.09 rating with 38 aces and an ace % of 20.5.  

On the receiving side,  SHS lost 2 players that,  before injuries,  were #1 and #2 in pass rating (Barlow 2.27 and Thompson 2.00) with a combined 16/35 perfect pass on reception (45.7%)  and only 1 ace allowed among the Hilltoppers.  In their absence,  the passing responsibility and load has shifted to Noa and Wauters who have managed nicely in their absence with a 1.82 pass rating with a 26/68 perfect pass on reception (42.2%),  leading the squad to a 3-1 record.  

Roberts has officially taken over the offensive load with 34 kills in 5 matches (6.80 kills/match) but the most impressive number is the .393 hitting efficiency and a 55.7% kill %.  In comparison,  Roberts had 58 kills in 14 matches for a 4.14 kills per match number,  a 39.7 kill % and a .150 hitting efficiency.  

The team has hit for 77 kills (7.7 kills/set) with a kill % of 32.3% and an efficiency of .145.  For comparison, last year's squad finished the season at a kill % of 32.3% and an efficiency of .153,  averaging 8.5 kills/set.

Zacharias is currently averaging 7.4 assists/set and is ahead of pace of Kasey Walsh from last year's team who averaged 7.04. 

Kiera Stocks averaged 3.73 digs/set and Noa has stepped in admirably as the Libero in Thompson's absence with 3.30 digs/set.


Summit takes on Oak Knoll on Monday @Oak Knoll at 4:30pm, Varsity first.  

Summit follows up at home vs.  New Providence on Wednesday and closes out the week on the road @Cranford 4pm for Varsity while the JV and 9th Graders play at home,  also at 4pm.

9TH GRADERS EARN HARD FOUGHT VICTORY, JV ROLLS PAST RAHWAY

 Friday the 17th saw the Hilltoppers take on Rahway on the JV and Varsity level and Bridgewater-Raritan on the 9th grade level as part of their Go4TheGoal event to help make the lives of kids and families affected by pediatric cancer.  All teams donned gold laces in commemoration of the event and it a great afternoon for Volleyball!

FROSH COMEBACK TO GET FOURTH "W"

The 9th graders knew they were in for a fight from the beginning of the set against the Panthers.  Through six rotations, the Hilltoppers found themselves up only up 14-11 despite going through their best servers who have dominated recently.  When Caroline Henry served again and got the Hilltoppers to an 18-13 lead, it all seemed to be going to plan but the very next rotation saw the Panthers rip off a 5-0 run and Summit saw the lead evaporate as the scoreboard read 19-19.  A few rotations later,  Gabbi Nowicka had SHS on the verge of the set 1 victory at 22-20 but a break of serve and a 3-0 run by the Panthers kicked the Maroon and White off their pedestal and Summit were facing 2 Panther set points at 22-24.  The Hilltoppers fought off 2 set points but could not finish the job as the squad dropped a 26-24 set 1 decision to a very game and experienced Panther squad with the most club players and multi year experienced players that the Hilltoppers have faced this year,  Ridge included.

Set 2 was a tight affair until Abby Cammarano stepped up to serve and ran off a 7-0 run that catapulted the Hilltoppers to a 14-7 lead.  The teams settled into a very even set after that and that service run proved to be the difference in set 2 with the Maroon and White taking it 25-14.

The deciding set was a tense one as the Panthers continued to fight back and push the Hilltoppers through the first 6 rotations.  Despite Molly Davies opening the scoring 3-0,  Panthers responded right back with a 4-0 run that had them up 4-3.  And so it went the first 6 rotations with the teams separated by a mere 3 points at 13-10 SHS thanks to each of rotations 4-6 scoring 1 point while the Bridgewater-Raritan crew could not do the same.  But that all changed in rotations 7-12 as it was the Panthers' turn to score 1 point in rotations 2 through 4 while the Hilltoppers could only manage a sole point on Caroline Henry's service  turn, knotting the score at 20-20 as Davies stepped up yet again and this time,  Davies and the squad ran an unexpected 5-0 service run that sealed the deal at 25-20, a hard fought victory to improve the 9th graders to 4-0!


JV SQUAD TAKES WIN OVER FEISTY RAHWAY

The JV Hilltoppers took on the Rahway Indians in the opening match in the main gym of the Go4TheGoal event and expected that their service game would carry them to victory but the Rahway squad was able to stymie the Summit service game and SHS had to rely on their offense to earn the victory.  

Abby Thompson began the first set on the serve, the first match back since her hand injury, and immediately put her imprint on her first game back with a 5 point service run to get the Hilltoppers off to a 6-1 start.  Rahway ate into that lead and got within 2 at 7-5 but Emily Demm hit for a couple of aces and got the Top another couple of points to extend the lead to what seemed to be a very comfortable 12-5 score.  The set came to somewhat of a stop as Rahway would not allow the Summit servers to score easily and the SHS offense found it difficult to get a ball down so the teams traded points over the next few rotations as the teams remained 6-7 points apart throughout the process,  ending rotation 6 with Summit up 17-11.  SHS just could not find a run to finish off the Indians and the Rahway squad just did not seem to have the answers to solve the Summit defense so,  with the score 21-16 SHS,  Stella Yarden stepped up and took the control of the set and finished off the Rahway team with a 3-0 run (1 ace) to close out set 1 25-16.

Set 2 was unexpectedly tight as the Summit squad began to experience a higher number of service errors and more of an offensive threat from the Indians.  The result,  a 13-11 deficit for the Hilltoppers through 6 rotations.  Elizabeth Walsh got the SHS crew even with a key service point in rotation 8 which seemed to get the Maroon and White going as the team proceeded to win 6 of the next 8 points as Demm again ran off a 3 point service rotation to have the Top up 22-17 late in the set.  But Rahway would not give in and the Indians ran off a 3 point run of their own to get within 2,  forcing Coach Ross to call a time-out.  Despite a service break by the SHS squad,  Rahway broke right back and had a chance to close the 23-21 gap they faced.  But a missed serve gave Summit a reprieve and the Hilltoppers closed it out with Yarden again one serve later.  

Final score 25-21,  Record 4W-1L





Tuesday, September 14, 2021

THE HILLTOPPERS FEND OFF THE TIGERS IN A 3-0 LEVEL SWEEP


All three levels were at home today against the Tigers of Linden and the young athletes came away with impressive 2-0 wins all the way around to move each squad to three wins (9th Grade 3-0,  JV 3-1,  V 3-1).

The 9th graders took control of the first set early and never looked back on their way to a 25-4 set win.  The 2nd set was more competitive with SHS up only by 4 at 12-8 at the midway of the match but the Top once again rolled late for a convincing 25-14 set 2 and match win!


JV cruises to a 25-14,  25-8 win over the Tigers using precise serving and key kills to shut down the Tiger threat.  Through the first 6 rotations JV looked like it was in for a fight as the Linden squad kept many SHS attacks alive and were doing enough on serve receive to stay in the set down only 11-8.  Then Isabelle Meltzer broke the set wide open in rotation 7 with a 5-0 run (3 aces) that all but sealed the deal for the Hilltoppers,  giving the squad a 17-9 lead.  SHS outscored the Tiger team 8-5 the rest of the way for the 25-14 set win.

By rotation 6 of set 2 the game was essentially over.  The Top used 2-4 points per server to open up a 17-6 lead over Linden that the Tigers could not respond to adequately.  Emily Demm took a 6-3 lead and turned it into an 11-3 lead that the Tigers just could not overcome and Abby Wells put the last nail in the proverbial coffin with a 6-0 run to end the match at 25-8.


Varsity,  however,  was locked in a dog fight with their rivals as the team stuck with Alison Wauters replacing Hannah Barlow in the OH spot and Sarah Noa yet again took over the reigns of Libero from injured Rebecca Thompson.  Summit struggled early to contain Linden's best server and it took a service error for SHS to start their day from the service line.  Wauters,  Hope Basaman and Eva Oberhuber  notched a kill each early on to give Summit a 4-2 lead but Linden rattled off 4 straight points to re-take the lead 6-4.  A couple of unforced errors in the next few rotations allowed the Linden ladies to take a 9-5 lead but Wauters ripped and ace and Roberts pounded out a kill to get SHS back into the set down 9-8.  Despite a free ball return error which gave the Tigers the ball leading 10-8,  the Hilltoppers responded with a 5-0 run (3 aces Basaman,  1 kill Roberts) that flipped the script and had SHS up 13-10.  

Summit could not extend that lead and eventually suffered through a 3-0 Linden run which had the Tigers up again at 16-15,  a lead they would carry later in the set  at 19-18 before the Maroon and White responded behind the serving of Wauters (1 ace) who earned 3 service points late to get the Top to a 21-19 lead.  Basaman closed it out with 2 more aces and the set was wrapped up 25-20.

Set 2 saw the Top jump out to a 5-1 fueled by Noa from the service line (1 ace) which forced Linden into may unforced hitting errors.  Still up 8-5,  the Maroon and White got an ace by Victoria MacArthur and kills by Roberts and Wauters to begin to pull away and extend their lead to 11-5 and Oberhuber smashed a kill to zone 5 which forced a Tiger time-out at 12-6.  Noa once again shone in the spotlight as she ripped off 4 service points (1 ace) to get SHS the control of the match at 16-7.  The rest of the set was merely academic as the Maroon and White out-scored Linden 13-8 to close out the set and match 25-15.  

Basaman was stellar from the service line,  knocking down a match high 6 aces (2.83 serve rating) and teammate Roberts slammed a match high 9 kills (.286 efficiency).  SHS were defensively led by Noa and Thea Rind  who notched 15 digs.  Zoe Zacharias ran a good offense today getting 5 hitters involved in the offense and notching a career high 16 assists.  Basaman and Roberts led the team with 7 points apiece.  Summit will go back to work in the gym over the next few days and host Rahway in the Pediatric Cancer Research and Awareness GO4THEGOLD event on Friday.  



HILLTOPPERS STYMIE CRUSADERS FOR SECOND WIN ON VARSITY AND JV

 On Monday, the Top took on ALJ looking for their 2nd win on the 2021 campaign.  Summit did not disappoint their fans and came away with a 25-11, 25-18 win on Junior Varsity and a 25-21,  25-14 win on Varsity,  although this victory came at a price.  Starting OH Hannah Barlow was injured on a diving play early in set 1 and did not return to the match forcing some major line-up changes by the Hilltoppers for set 2 to account for 2 starters now out of the line-up.  

What looked like an even match-up early on the JV match turned into a one-sided affair by the end of rotation 4 because Stella Yarden ripped a 10 point service run (4 aces) that blew the game open and gave the Summit squad a 15-5 lead they would never relinquish as the team rolled to a 25-11 set one win.

Set two looked like it was much of the same as the team got out to a 10-3 lead behind Abby Wells' 6 point service run (3 aces) but the Crusaders responded with a 4-0 run that had ALJ within 2 at 10-8.  Ally Liguori took over from the service line with SHS up 12-9 and rattled off a 4-0 run (1 ace) that saw Summit increase its lead to 16-10 before it was over.  Katie Cooper followed that up with a 2-0 run and within 6 rotations,  the Maroon and White were up 19-13,  a lead that ALJ just could not overcome.  SHS closed it out on a 6-5 run for the 2-0 set win.

Varsity got out to a slow start, down 3-0 before the blink of an eye with 2 hitting errors.  Hope Basaman and Sarah Noa  got the Top back on track with a kill and and ace knotting the score up at 3.  ALJ continued to fight off Summit runs through the first set but with Summit trailing 9-7,  SHS got 2 kills by Vivian Roberts,  an ace by Julia Nardino and a kill by Eva Oberhuber to force a Crusader time-out with the squad up 12-9.  Off the time-out,  Summit got another kill by Roberts and the Maroon and White were looking good with a 13-9 lead.  Someone,  however,  forgot to tell the Crusaders that they were not in the match anymore and the Blue and White pounded 2 kills and got 2 receiving errors as a bonus to take over the lead by a 16-15 margin.  This tight affair continued as the Hilltoppers could not get control of the set and saw ALJ up 20-19 after another Summit hitting error.  A Crusader service ice error,  however,  opened up the door of opportunity for the Maroon and White and they took full advantage of it,  forcing a ball handling error and getting another kill by Roberts that had the Summit faithful ecstatic as the scoreboard read 22-20 and a an ALJ time-out.  Another kill by Roberts  got SHS within one point of the set at 24-20 and a service error by the Blue and White sealed set 1 in favor of the Top, 25-20.   

Basaman was instrumental in the set win with an 8/8 service run (2 aces),  Noa was 6/7 on receive and put up 3 perfect passes while Roberts led the offense with a 5 kill tally and a .571 efficiency.

An early set 2 4-0 run sparked by a Basaman  kill and 3 aces by Noa gave the Top an early 6-2 lead.  All crawled back to within 1 at 6-5 but SHS got 6 of the next 8 points (Roberts 2 kills,  Basaman 3 aces) to force a Crusader time-out at 12-7 Summit.  The Maroon and White did not lose focus though and another ace-kill combo by Basaman and Roberts had the Hilltoppers up 14-7 and they never looked back,  outscoring the Crusaders 11-7 the rest of the way for the set 2 and match victory at 25-14.  

Noa and Basaman combined for 25/28 from the service line and a whopping 12 aces to lead the service attack.  Roberts was nearly unstoppable with a 9 kill performance out of 11 swings for a .727 hitting efficiency.  Oberhuber  was very productive as well with 4 kills on 6 swings for a .500 efficiency.   Noa led the squad defensively with 6 digs.

Next up were the always tough rivals,  the Linden Tigers.


ps.  Miss you Barlow... we will see you on the court in 4 weeks or so!  We got your back!


Saturday, September 11, 2021

ALL LEVELS NOTCH WINS VERSUS RIVAL CRANFORD IN HARD-FOUGHT MATCHES

 9TH GRADERS GET FIRST ROAD WIN AT COUGAR DEN

The young Hilltoppers continued their winning ways with their first road win of the season to improve to 2-0 against rival Cranford.  Cranford served first in set but neither team got any advantage until rotation 4 when Cranford rattled off 4 points to take an 8-3 lead.  Caroline Henry responded for the Hilltoppers with a 5-0 run and the squads were knotted again at 9.  The Cougars and the Top could not find any daylight among themselves though until rotation 9 with SHS up 17-15 and with the serve.  Molly Davies managed to lead the squad with a 3-0 mini run and Summit finally looked like they would break the Cougar spirit as they entered rotation 10 with a 21-16 lead.  The set ended devoid of any major runs and the Hilltoppers wrapped it up 25-17.

Set 2 proved to be a tight affair as the 9th grade squad found itself down 9-4 by rotation 3 but the team kept clawing back over the next 3 rotations to trim the lead down to one at 14-13 thanks to the service rotation by Emily Handal who pushed SHS to a 6-0 run.  Late in the set,  the Hilltoppers were down 19-18 but had Gabriela Nowicka come off the bench and spur a 3-0 run that got SHS ahead 21-20.  Cranford fought back to a 23-22 lead but a service break got the Top to 23-23 and Ava Feuerstake wrapped it up off the bench with a 2-0 run that sealed the set and match, 25-23.


JUNIOR VARSITY OUTLASTS CRANFORD IN 3 SET BATTLE

SHS started off this rivalry game in a very auspicious manner as the Top was looking at an 8-1 deficit forcing Coach Ross into an early time-out.  Although the time-out settled the troops,  Summit still needed to get a run going to cut into the lead.  Down 10-3,  Emily Demm rattled off a few aces in a 4-0 run that got the Maroon and White within striking distance at 10-7.  Cranford could not shake SHS and while still trailing 12-9,  Summit turned to Abby Wells and the junior responded with a 5 point service run that allowed the Hilltoppers to pull even with the Cougars by the end of the first 6 rotations at 14-14.  The next 6 rotations were nail biters!  Summit jumped ahead 19-17 just to see Cranford go ahead 20-19.  SHS goes ahead 21-20 but Cranford responds and take charge, going ahead 22-21.  The Top broke serve to knot up the score at 22 but Cranford broke right back for a 23-22 lead and followed up with an ace to earn 2 match points with the serve.  But the young JV did not falter and after breaking serve and staving off one match point,  it was Wells who pulled the Hilltoppers to victory with 3 crucial, pressure filled serves to seal set 1 26-24. 

Set 2 was the Cougar comeback as Cranford took the set 25-21,  coming back from 7-1 and 11-2 deficits thanks to Demm and Wells again.  But this time,  the Hilltoppers were the ones that faltered and after taking the lead 16-12 after rotation 6,  the Top was unable to handle the Cougar serving attack and a 3-0 run (2 aces) had Cranford and SHS knotted up at 16.  Neither team was able to do much for the next few rotations and unsurprisingly both squads were knotted up at 21 after 9 rotations.  But the Cougars stepped up their service again and ended the Hilltoppers on a 3-0 run for the 25-21 win.

The deciding set had the Cougars loving their chances for an upset but the Hilltoppers fixed their receive woes of the 2nd set and were efficiently lethal in their service game which led to a very productive offense.  Demm again was the catalyst as the sophomore ran off 5 service points (2 aces) to force a Cranford time-out at 9-2 and added 2 more points after the TO to give Summit the early advantage through only 3 rotations at 11-3.  With the recent memory of the 2nd set and giving up the big lead,  SHS needed to focus on their receiving game and so they did,  not allowing the Cougars to go on any runs,  allowing Summit to hold a 17-6 lead through 6 rotations.  To the Cougar's credit,  the squad did not give up and managed one rotation that had Summit a bit rattled after a 5-0 run which forced Coach Ross to call a time-out as the Top saw Cranford whittle the Hilltoppers lead down to 17-11.  After a service break by Summit (18-11),  Emily Griffith gave SHS some breathing room and the near certainty of a win with 2 huge serves (1 ace) that had the Maroon and White back up 20-11.  The rest of the set was merely an academic exercise as the Hilltoppers played even with their rivals and closed out the set for their first win, 25-17.


DESPITE INJURY TO LIBERO THOMPSON,  HILLTOPPERS COME TOGETHER AND BOUNCE BACK FROM GL LOSS TO EVEN OUT RECORD

The Hilltoppers found out early afternoon that they would be without the services of starting L and Captain Rebekah Thompson which forced the squad to make some adjustments to the line-up they featured against Governor Livingston.  Sarah Noa took over the reigns of the backline as the Libero for the match while Tori MacArthur and Thea Rind anchored the other slots in the back with OH Hannah Barlow rounding out the serve receive formations.  Hope Basaman and Alison Wauters were moved to the OPP position while Julia Nardino would come in to provide more of a presence out of the middle.  

Summit and Cranford opened up the match slowly with serving errors and inconsistent offense being the norm.  After a Cougar serving error had SHS down only 1 at 8-7,  a 5-0 run by MacArthur (2 aces) had the Cranford players on their heels and Summit in control by a 12-8 score.  The Hilltoppers were looking to put things away after a Barlow kill had the Top up 16-12 but Cranford got a kill and a SHS error to cut the lead to 16-14.   A Cougar serving error and a Nardino block had the Top up 18-14 and with the Summit net presence and serving pressuring the Cougars into errors,  the Maroon and White were looking at what seemed an insurmountable 20-15 lead.  Cranford did not wilt however and came up with 2 kills, an ace and benefitted from 1 hitting error around a Roberts kill to force Coach Martins into a time-out hanging on to a 21-19 lead.   Eva Oberhuber notched a kill coming out of the time-out and the Top got a little more breathing room.  SHS had the ball with a 23-20 lead but yet again,  2 Cougar kills and a SHS ball handling error had the set knotted up at 23!  But then,  a perfect 3.0 pass by Noa led to a crucial kill by Barlow that put the sophomore  on the service line with the set in hand.  Barlow sent a screamer over the net that forced a free ball which was perfectly passed ball by Noa  and Vivian Roberts wrapped it up with another kill off the left side for the 25-23 set 1 win.

Top Set 1 Stat Highlights:

MacArthur- 2 aces,  2.57 serve rating

Barlow- 5/5 passing, perfect 3.00 pass rating, 3 kills, .250 efficiency, 37.5% kill %, 3 points

Oberhuber, Rind- 2 digs each

Nardino- 1 block

Set 2 began with the Top on serve receive and the Cougars jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead to open things up.  A service error got the Top off the hook and Noa followed up with an ace to begin things for the Hilltoppers.  A kill by Cranford had the visitors up 7-4 early on but went on a 4-0 run (Nardino kill, Oberhuber block and kill, Roberts kill) to erase that deficit.  

Summit saw the Cougars regain control of the set after trailing 10-8  a few rotations later as their rival tallied 4 of 5 points in a run fueled by 2 serving errors, a hitting error and an ace allowed by the Top.   SHS steadied the boat after an Oberhuber block knotted the score at 12 and the home side proceeded to take six of the next 7 points off a really consistent and well placed service attack  (Noa and Cece Webb 1 ace each).  Two successful attacks by Roberts had the Top up 20-16 late which was followed by 2 aces by MacArthur which all but ended the Cougars' hopes at 23-17.  The senior DS ripped two final serves that forced the Cranford attack into 2 hitting errors and sealed the 2-0 win versus their rival!

Top Set 2 Stat Highlights:

Noa and MacArthur- 2 aces each, combined 10/11 from service line, 2.20 and 2.33 serve rating respectively

Roberts- 4 kills, .667 efficiency and 66.7% kill %, 4 points, +3 for set

Zacharias- 2 digs, 7 assists

Oberhuber- 2 blocks, +3 for set


FOR THE MATCH:

Top Point Scorer:  Roberts, 6 points

Top Assists:  Zacharias, 13 assists

Top Blocker: Oberhuber, 2 blocks

Top Digs: Oberhuber, 3 digs

Top Kills / Offensive Efficiency: Roberts, 6 kills, .308

Top Receiver / Pass Rating: Barlow, 8/8, perfect 3.00 rating

Top Aces / Serve Rating: MacArthur, 4 aces, 2.46 serve rating



Thursday, September 9, 2021

HIGHLANDERS OUTLAST HILLTOPPERS ON JV AND VARSITY BUT 9TH GRADERS ROLL

 The 9th Graders opened up their season with a bang as they dispatched the Highlanders by a 25-10, 25-16 tally to open up the season with a win.  Mira Oberoi started the season by serving the first point of the campaign.  With the score 1-1,  Molly Davies followed up with a 4-0 service run that had the Top up 6-2.  A quick service break had the Maroon and White back on serve at 7-2 and Caroline Henry rattled off another 4-0 run and Summit looked in control with an 11-3 lead.  The Highlanders cut the lead down to 12-6 but then Juliana Alicea took to the service line and ended the slim GL hopes with a blistering 11-0 run that had Summit up 23-7 and effectively ended the set as the Top closed it out with a 25-10 score.

The 2nd set was more of the same although the Highlanders did provide more of a fight and pushed the squad throughout the set.  GL fought hard through 6 rotations and held an 11-9 lead going to rotation 7.  But Henry stepped up again and delivered another 4-0 run that saw the Hilltoppers take a 14-13 lead.  Despite a break in serve,  Allish Gutshall was soon called upon to make an impact from the service line and so she did with a 3-0 run that opened up an 18-13 lead that calmed Summit's nerves.  Mariana Porsse then provided a 4-0 service run that all but wiped out any GL hopes and got the Hilltoppers to a 23-14 lead.  The set and match were soon over as the Top notched their first victory of the year by a 25-16 score.  


Junior Varsity had spurts of great play but just could not handle the service attack of the GL serving machine and despite hurting the Highlanders with their own serving,  Summit just could not overcome the hole they had dug in set 1 (down by 7 at one point) and got as close as 2 points multiple times but just could not muster a run that would push them ahead of the GL squad.  Key missed serves at crucial times late sealed the deal and gave GL a 25-21 set one win.

Set 2 was over early as the Top fell behind by 8 and just could not make a dent into that deficit as the Hilltoppers could not solve the Highlander service attack.  SHS dropped the set 25-14 for their first loss of the season.


Varsity was looking to change the trend in the last 5 matches and get a vital opening day win on the road but it was not to be as the Highlanders closed out the Hilltoppers 25-17,  25-23. The season started well for the Top as the squad was down 4-3 before Sarah Noa stepped up after a Vivian Roberts kill and gave the Maroon and White an 8-4 cushion early.  By rotation 6 though,  Summit and GL were deadlocked again at 10 but a dig by Roberts led to a kill by Alison Wauters  which had Summit up 13-12.  Things looked good... until they didn't.  The Highlanders went on a 10-3 run that blew the set open and gave the GL squad a 22-15 and effectively seal the set after a few more points by a tally of 25-17.  Roberts was keeping the Summit offense afloat with 4 kills in the set and an amazing .429 hitting efficiency with a 57.1% kill percentage.  

In the closing set,  Summit opened up with 6 unforced errors and were staring down at a 10-0 deficit.  SHS could not seem to respond effectively and after another Summit service error GL must have thought that the Hilltoppers were going to quit fighting down 2-14.  Julia Nardino had an overpass kill which sparked the team and then she joined Roberts for a block that had SHS down 4-12.  Victoria MacArthur stepped in to serve after a Roberts kill and after an ace by the DS Junior,  SHS saw the lead dwindle to 13-10 thanks as well to a few GL errors.  A 3-0 run seemed to be all the Highlanders would need to get the win as just that quickly Summit saw all their hard work go for naught but this was not to come to pass.  The Hilltoppers went on a 4-0 run (Hannah Barlow 2 kills)  and now GL was visually worried as the Hilltoppers were within 2 at 16-14.  Yet again a 3-0 run by GL fueled by 2 free ball return errors and a GL ace yet again put Summit on the ropes at 19-14.  

At 20-17 after a Nardino dump kill,  the Highlanders generated another 3-0 run which looked like it was going to seal the set and match after the Hilltoppers saw a 23-17 lead.  A presence at the net by Nardino provided the look needed to force a tip error by the Highlanders,  23-18.  A huge block by Roberts on the Opposite and the explosion of emotion was palpable,  23-19.  Kill GL, one point away, 24-19.  Two hitting errors forced by the Top and a service error by the GL squad... 24-22.  Eva Oberhuber all over the net,  hitting overpasses,  finally forces one of the GL Middle blockers into the net,  time-out GL,  24-23.  Unfortunately,  the furious comeback came up just short but a lot of good things came out of the match and the team will look to improve on those tomorrow, at home, versus Cranford.

Roberts scored a team leading 7 points (5 Kills - 2 Blocks) and had a 50% kill % and a .300 hitting efficiency, both team bests.  Noa and Rebekah Thomson notched 6 digs apiece. to lead the defense and Thompson handled 19 of the 43 service attempts of the GL Highlanders, passed at a 1.95 pass rating and a 36.8% perfect pass rating,  all team bests today.  

Next up,  Cranford, home opener!


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

VARSITY PREVIEW - GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON AND CRANFORD

 GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON LAST 5 MATCHES

2018 

Governor Livingston beat Summit 2-0 and 2-1 by being more productive on offense as the Highlanders ended that season with a 60-40 kill advantage.  Some of that was mitigated in the second match at GL as the Hilltoppers had a 14-3 block advantage and a 15-14 ace advantage but it was not enough to overcome the offensive firepower of the GL squad.  Of note, the Highlanders had 60 kills and just 13 errors while the Hilltoppers scored 40 kills but notched 21 errors in the process.  

Libero Kiera Stocks was the serving menace with 5 aces and a 2.14 serve rating in the 2 matches.  Tessa Pulgar anchored a solid serve receive with a 2.38 pass rating with Pulgar sending a perfect pass to the setter a team leading 50% of the time.  

Offensively,  Katie MacPherson led the Summit attack with 13 kills.  Defensively,  Ava Williamson led the way with 19 and Carmel Barsh was a menace at the net with 8 blocks.

2019

GL swept the Hilltoppers 2-0 in both season matchups with a 32-14 kill advantage,  a 24-10 ace advantage and a 5-1 block advantage.  The Hilltoppers hit a negative .099 for the matches, a clear recipe for a negative result.

Kasey Walsh  led the Top with 3 aces.  Stocks led the squad with pass attempts and a 1.62 pass rating and a 31% perfect pass success rate.  Sara Maldonado was the main offensive weapon with 5 kills and a .286 attack efficiency.  Defensively,  Stocks had a team leading 11 digs and Annabella Yorio had the only block in both matches.

2021 Season 3

Although the Highlanders overcame the Hilltoppers 2-0,  Summit out-killed Governor Livingston 22-14 while the Highlanders out-aced Summit 3-2 and out-blocked the Maroon and White 7-4.  Overall,  Summit out-scored GL 28-24 but the 8 service errors and the 4 faults compared to GL's 5 total was the difference in key points of the match.  Of note,  SHS was missing team leading blocker and scoring middle Catherine Eldridge to illness that Saturday which did alter the offensive options available versus a very solid and dangerous Highlanders Squad.

Erin Vostal had 2 aces and a 2.43 serve rating to lead the Top from the service line.  Gabbie Guidetti was nearly perfect in receive with a 2.43 pass rating and a perfect pass % of 71.4%.  Maldonado was an attacking machine with 10 kills and a 76.9 kill % and an equal efficiency rating.  Stocks did everything she could defensively against the Highlanders OHs with a match and team leading 15 digs and Eva Oberhuber filled in admirably for Eldridge with a team leading 2 blocks.

Lessons Learned:  mistakes late in matches will come back to hurt you against a team that is betting on the fact that if they just keep the ball in play (not aggressive),  you will implode.  Aggression without purpose leads to errors. Summit loses by a combined 10 points and had 8 serving errors (most after the score had got past 15 points) despite the fact that they outscore (kills+blocks+aces) GL 28-24.

LAST MATCH:
Set 1 21-25  SHS-15 points Gov Liv-12 (Summit 10 serving / attacking errors, GL 4)
Set 2 19-25 SHS-13 pts. Gov Liv-12 (SHS 6 errors, GL 5)



CRANFORD LAST FIVE MATCHES

2018

In a dominant 2-0 match sweep of the Cougars by a 2-0 and 2-1 scores,  Summit showed their dominance with a 46-31 kill performance but the difference in both matches was in the serving department as the Top dominated with a 29-12 ace despite Cranford having an 8-5 blocking advantage over SHS.

Stocks was simply lethal with 9 aces and a 2.75 serve rating.  She also led the team with a 1.95 pass rating and a 31.7 perfect pass %.  Micaela Nardino was simply the question Cranford had no answer for in the 2 matches as she hit for 15 kills while defensively,  Stocks notched 20 digs and Nardino was 2nd with 16 over the 2 matches.  Sylvie Goudreau was a Cougar killer with a team leading 3 blocks and numerous attack thwarting touches.  

2019

The two matches versus Cranford were probably the most thrilling and competitive matches of the season for the Hilltoppers.  SHS came away with a 2-0 season sweep by 2-1 scores.  Summit held an overwhelming 67-38 edge in kills which proved to be the difference in the matches because the teams were pretty even in blocks (Cranford led 7-4) and aces (Summit 23-21).

Sarah Brennan silenced the Cougars from the service line with 8 aces and a 2.52 serve rating.  Stocks was a passing monster with 43 of the team's 125 passes at a team leading 2.00 pass rating and a 32.6% perfect pass %.  Maldonado was a thorn in the Cougar defense in both matches,  tallying a team leading 22 kills, a .413 efficiency rating and a 47.8 kill %.  Stocks was again a factor defensively digging up 34 Cougar attacks and Vostal was able to neutralize 3 Cougar attacks to lead the team in blocks.   

2021 Season 3

Summit entered the Cougar den for their only match of the season in the Season 3 schedule and had a 6W-0L record so the motivation was there for the Cougars to knock off their rivals.  SHS and Cranford locked up in another classic battle but the Hilltoppers came away with a 2-1 win behind a balanced attack of offense and serving which yielded a 25-21 kill advantage and a 12-7 ace advantage (both teams notched 2 blocks apiece).  

Guidetti was unstoppable from the service line, notching 4 aces on 9 attempts and only 1 error (2.89 serve rating).  Brennan led the passing efforts of the Top with a 2.08 rating and a 41.7 perfect pass %.  Maldonado was once again a key to the offense with a team leading 7 kills and a .160 efficiency but Vivian Roberts stepped up when needed in the match and tallied 6 kills and a 42.9 kill % to give the Maroon and White much needed balance.  Stocks (13),  Walsh (10) and Brennan (10) combined for 33 of the team's 48 digs and were instrumental in the win.  Eldridge was again a factor and notched 2 blocks along with affecting numerous attacks with her presence at the net. 

Lessons Learned:  In a rivalry match, stats go out the window.  Cranford had season high numbers in this match in numerous categories and did not show this kind of consistency throughout the year.  They targeted the setter in back row and served really tough.  Kill numbers determine the winner.

LAST MATCH:
Set 1 25-18 SHS-14 points Cranford-11 (Summit 2 serving / attacking errors, Cranford 6)
Set 2 21-25 SHS-10 pts. Cranford-14 (SHS 7 errors, Cranford 6)
Set 3 25-14 SHS-15 pts. Cranford-5 (SHS 8 errors,  Cranford 5) 


OUTLOOK:  

A-Summit and Governor Livingston both lost most of their offensive firepower from last year. Both teams should be pretty evenly matched and the outcome will probably be decided on kill number total and serving effectiveness.

B-Summit vs. Cranford is always an intense rivalry matchup and both squads will be up for the Friday night matchup.  The Cougars lost one of the two-headed monster offense that scored 42 kills apiece last season but they do return Coates who led the squad with a team tying 42 kills and 156 digs even though Quinones is a loss to graduation who also had 42 kills and was the team leader in aces and 2nd in service points.  The Cougars do return both sophomore setters who ran their 6-2 offense. Cranford opens with New Providence, a squad that they lost to twice last season by 2-0 tallies.