Tuesday, November 28, 2023


The last chapter of the 2023 season has been written,  the new 2024 BAND has been created and the Team and Conference Awards have been awarded.  This has been one of the best seasons ever in the history of SHS Volleyball!  


4th Best Winning % 

4th Most Wins 

Best Offense (#1 Kills/Set - #2 Total Kills)

3rd Most Ace Production (Aces/Set)

2nd Best Point Production (Points/Set)


(1 better than 2022)




(First Time Ever Back to Back)


Hilltopper Award

9th Grade- Colon, Willecke

Junior Varsity- Allan

Varsity- Henry

Most Improved Player Award


9th Graders - Kovarik

Junior Varsity- DeYonge

Varsity- Joseph, Nardino

Most Impactful Player Award

9th Graders - Feuerstake

Junior Varsity- Ge

Varsity- Barlow, Zacharias

School Record Recognition

Hannah Barlow,  Julia Nardino and Zoe Zacharias

Player of the Match Recognition

 Hannah Barlow, Anna Joseph, MacKenna Welsh

Caroline Henry, Gabby Nowicka, Zoe Zacharias and Julia Nardino

Independent Volleyball Awards

Hannah Barlow

MaxPreps Summit High School Player of the Year

American Volleyball Coaches Association Best and Brightest Selection 2nd Team

Zoe Zacharias

American Volleyball Coaches Association Best and Brightest Selection 2nd Team

UCIAC Conference and Union County Volleyball Recognition

Hannah Barlow 

First Team Mountain Division

Zoe Zacharias 

First Team Mountain Division

Julia Nardino

Honorable Mention Mountain Division

Hannah Barlow

Second Team All County

Zoe Zacharias

Third Team All County

Saturday, November 4, 2023



After the tough loss to a very good Linden Team in the County Tournament,  the Hilltoppers finished the season on a 3W-1L run,  with the loss to the highest ranked team the SHS squad faced all year.  2022 ended with a bitter taste of disappointment as the squad felt they let an opportunity slip away against Millburn after a dominant set 1 victory against the Millers in the quarter-finals.  The team dropped the next 2 sets and thus ended the season.  The 2023 season ended as well in a loss in the quarter-finals but the feeling was quite different.  

This is a quick look back at the last 4 matches to put the season in perspective.

Oak Knoll was the Senior Night Match and the contest was the Hilltoppers' first after the Linden loss.  Although the loss was disappointing,  the team refocused for the state run and looked to get back on a winning roll entering the state tournament.  Summit earned a 2-0 victory over the Royals with a 25-11, 25-8 victory set score win in a match that saw SHS out-score the Royals 28-11 for the match with a decided advantage in kills (15-7) and aces (12-4).  


ACES: Zacharias 4 

SERVE RATING: Smidt 2.67

PASS RATING: Barlow 2.20

KILLS: Barlow 8 


KILL %: Barlow 40%

DIGS: Henry and Barlow 4

BLOCKS: Nardino 1

ASSISTS: Welsh 7

PTS. SCORED: Barlow 8

NET PTS. TOTAL (+PTS - ERR): Nardino, Smidt, Barlow +3

The very next day the Hilltoppers faced off against the Rockets of Raritan HS,  a team that was ranked 20 places ahead of SHS and that had defeated the Top during an August scrimmage.  The Rockets had lost a tough 2-1 decision to the Hilltoppers late in 2022 and the team was very motivated to right that loss while the Summit Squad was looking to get back on the winning track versus a very tenacious defensive visiting squad.  Summit won the first set 25-21,  dropped the second 21-25 but came back to win the decisive 3rd set 25-17 in a very spirited and competitive match.  


ACES: Henry 2

SERVE RATING: Thompson 2.89

PASS RATING: Barlow 2.35

KILLS:  Barlow 17

HIT EFFICIENCY: Nardino .444

KILL %: Nardino 55.6

DIGS: Henry 12

BLOCKS: Nardino 3

ASSISTS: Zacharias 18

PTS. SCORED: Barlow 19

NET PTS. TOTAL (+PTS - ERR): Barlow +9

With the tough win versus the Rockets,  SHS felt like it was ready for the State Tournament gauntlet.  In 2022,  the team dropped a 2-0 decision to Mendham in the last week of the season and dropped a 2-1 match to Dayton as the last 2 games prior to the State Sectional Tournament.  Iselin Kennedy,  a very low ranked sectional opponent last year vs the Hilltoppers (the #3 team),  gave the Top a major scare in the first round as SHS escaped the match with a 2-1 win that saw the home side have to fight back from a 1-0 deficit and a slight deficit in set 2 to finally move on to the quarter-finals.  

2023 had the Hilltoppers up against Ferris HS,  a team much higher ranked than Iselin had been last year and an early test for the squad to see if they could live up to its ranking.  The outcome was very positive in 2023 and the mood after the 2-0 (25-15, 25-14) victory was radically different from the 2022 first round match.  


ACES: Zacharias 5

SERVE RATING: Zacharias 2.50

PASS RATING: Henry 2.40

KILLS: Barlow 11


KILL %: Barlow 55%

DIGS: Henry 3


ASSISTS: Zacharias 15

PTS. SCORED: Barlow 12

NET PTS. TOTAL (+PTS - ERR):  Barlow +6

The task was a tall one,  Mendham,  despite its sectional playoff placement,  was ranked far higher (about 50 places)  than the Hilltoppers due to their strength of schedule,  wins over opponents ranked higher than themselves and overall points differential in wins/losses.  But the Top had faced these type of opponents before this season (Kent Place - Win,  SPF - 2/3 in Rahway Tourney) and had built confidence in the results they had achieved so despite the prediction of a 2-0 easy win by Mendham,  Summit had other plans.

Summit took set 1 25-21 despite 6 service errors because the squad nailed 5 aces and hit for 13 kills and added 2 blocks to score 20 of their 25 points and out-scoring Mendham 20-12.  The team committed only 2 hitting errors and 1 net fault to add to the 6 service errors which gave Mendham the 21 points on the scoreboard.  Could the team cut down the service errors and continue their amazing hitting efficiency? It seemed to be the formula for the win.

Set 2 was a Mendham 25-14 win and the numbers looked radically different.  7-5 kill advantage for Mendham.  5-2 ace advantage somewhat mitigated by a 2-0 block advantage by the Top.  In summary,  a 12-9 point advantage for the Minutewomen but they won by 11 so the error story must have been the key to the set and when the home squad looked at that number,  it spoke volumes.  6 hitting errors, 4 service errors, 2 faults and 1 free ball return error were the difference in the set as the Top got only 3 hitting errors and 2 free ball return errors from the Mendham side.  The visitors did not miss one serve in set 2 and put the Top under tremendous pressure,  forcing a decisive set 3.

The deciding set 3 would answer the question of whether the Hilltoppers could find their receive game and earn the decided point advantage they would need to earn an upset victory and move on to the semi-finals.  Final point tally,  Mendham 16 - SHS 11... Summit passed at 1.98 and Mendham 1.82.  Summit committed only 2 service errors but Mendham was one better... The most important number was the 13-8 kill number earned by the Minutewomen which set up the 7 point differential in the final score tally.  

The effort and desire and fight were all there in set 3.  The Top left it all out on the court with a 22 dig effort in the set alone (43 for the match!) and 3 blocks! The squad served only at 1.95 rating with only 1 ace to their match low 2 errors but Mendham were slightly better with a 2 ace 1 error performance and a 2.35 serve rating.  The Top clicked for 8 kills but were forced into 7 hitting errors while Mendham struck for 13, many on serve receive, and only 5 hitting errors despite passing at a much lower rating than Summit.  

The Hilltoppers fell a little short but the Minutewomen earned the victory with a much cleaner performance out of system offensively and a much tougher performance from the service line in the last 2 sets with a combined 7 aces and 1 error to SHS 3 aces and 6 errors and an offensive 20-12 advantage in kills over the last 2 sets with an 8-13 error advantage for a 33-20 net kill advantage over the last 2 sets.  

But the highlight was truly the defensive effort of the squad with 22 digs and 3 blocks in the last set alone to give the Top a chance to comeback.  SHS was down 18-5 and all seemed lost but Nowicka stepped up with a kill and get herself to the service line.  Barlow got a big kill after a Henry dig and earned another one after a Thompson dig with Nowicka serving the Mendham side tough and Zacharias running the offense to perfection.  Timeout Mendham, 18-8 as the visitor's Coach sensed the momentum swing.  Nowicka ace,  Nowicka 2 tough serves leading to freeball return errors,  timeout Mendham 18-11.  The match felt like it might have been 18-17 which is why the Minutewomen had called the two TOs this early.  Nowicka another tough serve off the TO and dug up a huge attack to set up a swing by Barlow.  Mendham dug it up but out of system leading to a hitting error and suddenly 18-12.  

Two hitting errors by the Hilltoppers stopped the run and pushed Mendham to 20-12.  The teams split the next 2 points and the scoreboard read 21-13.  Did the Top have another run in them?  Barlow and Heary dug up 2 attacks from the Minutewomen on the subsequent service run and it led to a Mendham hitting error that had SHS back at 21-14 but the visitors not only broke serve but got the next point to go up 23-14.  Barlow got a huge kill and followed it up with a tough serve that led to a hitting error by the Minutewomen and 23-16 was the score but the Top ran out of points despite another Barlow kill after a Nowicka attack that led to a freeball that the senior crushed for a point but the Hilltoppers' run in states ended at 25-18.  The character of this team,  unquestionably courageous and defiant.  Proud of these ladies!


ACES:  Nowicka 4

SERVE RATING: Nowicka 2.31

PASS RATING: Barlow 2.23

KILLS: Barlow 13

HIT EFFICIENCY: Nardino .400

KILL %: Nardino 40%

DIGS: Henry 8

BLOCKS: Barlow 4

ASSISTS: Zacharias 17

PTS. SCORED: Barlow 18

NET PTS. TOTAL (+PTS - ERR): Barlow +8

ANNOUNCED 2024 VARSITY (5 slots open at tryouts)

*alphabetical by last name

Molly Davies OPP/OH

Ava Feuerstake OH/OPP

*Liv Ge OH/DS 

*(based on 2022 and 2023 JV performance)

Maren Heary DS

Caroline Henry L

Emma Herring MB

Gabby Nowicka OH

Mackenna Welsh S


End of June to 3rd week of July... Invites will be sent out in May... This is the unofficial start of the 2024 Season




Monday, October 16, 2023



 Lots of missed serves to start... sloppy play on both sides... servew and receive game

7-8 KP 

good serve Handal... noone played free ball  10-8 kp

another missed serve 11-8 kp... ace kp ... 12-8 ... ge with a kill after a handal perfect pass... 12-9

ace ge... 12-10... ace ge... 12-11... hit error kp.... 12-12... free ball return error shs 12-13... free ball point to corner by kp 12-14... hit error kp 13-14...

kill kp 13-15... ace kp... 13-16... TO SUMMIT

ace kp off the TO... 13-17... miscommunication SHS 13-18... ace kp... 13-19

ace kp 13-20... finally missed serve kp... 14-20... missed serve summit 14-21... ace kp... 14-22...

block choussy 15-22... kill kp 15-23... missed free ball 15-24... ace kp 15-25...


GOOD OPENING RALLY, kp finishes it 1-0... ace kp... 2-0... kill brzezinska (anna b) 2-1...

smidt ace 2-2... ace smidt 3-2... ace smidt... 4-2... bolck de yonge 5-2... hit error kp 6-2... TO KP

ace smidt off the TO 7-2... ace smidt 8-2... hit error kp 9-2... hit error SHS 9-3... great run smidt!!!

dig basaman good swing de yonge but porsse blocked 9-4... push kill kp 9-5... porsee just save a bad serve receive pass but on the return kill kp 9-6... serve error kp 10-6... kill kp 10-7... 

return ball error SHS 10-8... free ball return error SHS 10-9 ... serve error KP 11-9... free ball return error KP 12-9... smidt with 3 huge digs!!!!! SHS keeps ball alive,  kp hitting error! 13-9... hit error KP 14-9... awesome dig PORSSE and RECOVERY SMIDT... hitting error kp... 15-9... kp ball handling error 16-9... kill kp 16-10... great serving run ge...

ace kp 16-11... hit error kp after dig ge keeps point alive! 17-11... anna b with kill after ge gets dig! 18-11... hit error SHS and free ball return error SHS 19-13... anna b and choussy MONSTER BLOCK 20-13... 

great serve meltzer, dig meltzer kill de yonge... 21-13... ace shs 22-13 ... hit error shs 22-14... 2 free ball return error shs 22-16... hit error kp 23-16... kill kp 23-17...  serve error kp 24-17... can smidt close it out on serve?  smidt dig, de yonge assist, porsse KILL 25-17... deciding set coming up...


great pass ge, set allan KILL meltzer... 1-0 ... allan great serve , into net kp 2-0... serve error shs 2-1

kill kp 2-2... shs into net 3-2 kp... kill devaney 3-3... hit error shs 3-4 ... serve error kp 4-4... great dig meltzer long rally shs hitting error 4-5... kill kp 4-6... serve error kp 5-6... kill kp 5-7... 

choussy KILL 6-7... serve error shs 6-8...serve error kp 7-8... Ge ACE 8-8... ge ACE 9-8... free ball return error kp 10-8... hit error kp 11-8... ge ACE 12-8...  Time - Out Kent Place

ge ACE off the TO 13-8... ge ACE 14-8... free ball return error 15-8... hit error kp 16-8... free ball return error kp 17-8... GE IS KEEPING KP UNDER INSANE PRESSURE ON RECEIVE!!! TO KP

hit error kp 18-8... scramble play, kill devaney! 19-8... ge ACE 20-8... knight dig leads to a free ball return, kp hitting error 21-8... kill devaney! 22-8... free ball return error kp 23-8... tip attempt kp, DEVANEY SAYS NO 24-8!... ace GE!!!!!!!!!!!! 

SEMI FINALS BOUND!!!!! 3rd TIME in SHS HISTORY (or 4th!!!! gotta double check :) 


Sunday, October 15, 2023



Varsity was looking to beat the Linden Tigers for a third time in a row after having a tough 3 set win on the road and a come from behind 2 set win at home.  On this Saturday morning,  however,  Linden would get the best of the the Top.

Zacharias opened the match on a 6-1 run that had everyone relaxed and confident and forced an early Linden TO.  At 8-3,  Linden's best player stepped up to the service line and flipped the set on its head.  The Tigers went on a 9-0 run (4 aces in a row) despite a TO by SHS,  after the smoke cleared,  Summit trailed 12-9.  Barlow and Welsh broke the run with a kill and an ace but the home side was chasing the set now and the match felt different as each point rattled off.  At 13-11 down but with the serve,  Summit committed 2 hitting errors and saw themselves trailing 15-11.  SHS got a kill by the most of unlikely sources,  Henry,  and a subsequent ace by Nardino gave hope back at 15-13 but Linden slammed the door shut with a kill and 3 consecutive aces to jump out to an 18-13 lead.  The Hilltoppers got a break with a service error and Zacharias hit the Tigers with an ace and SHS felt hope at 18-15.  Linden broke serve but then gave the ball right back to the home side and the same 3 point deficit stood at 19-16.  Linden again responded with a kill and an ace that had Summit reeling at 21-16.  Only a hitting error stopped the mini run but another Summit hitting error which led to another ace by the Tigers and at 23-17,  things looked bleak.  TO Martins.

Off the time-out,  Linden tallied another service error but they got the ball right back off a kill and just like that,  Linden had 6 set points.  Barlow found herself in that moment and put down a crucial kill that put her back at the service line.  The Senior Captain put down an ace and forced a Tiger hitting error which had the Linden Coach up on his feet calling for a TO at 24-21.  Summit had a crack at point 22 but were unable to convert and Linden made the Top pay with a kill that sealed the set 25-21. 

The 2nd set saw the run of hitting errors and service errors continue as the Hilltoppers trailed early 6-2 and 14-7 midway through the set.  Nardino got a key block that put the Senior MB on the service line and the team responded with a Nowicka and a Joseph kill that preceded a Nardino ace and SHS was yet again in the set down 14-11.  Despite a service break,  Linden could not extend the lead and Nowicka hurt the opposition with another kill and Zacharias slammed down another ace to force a Linden TO as SHS had crawled back to within one at 15-14.  Off the TO,  the Senior Setter yet again put the Tigers under pressure but another hitting error gave the ball back to the Tigers and a 3-0 run later Linden had established a 19-14 lead forcing a Martins TO.  SHS lost the point off the time-out but won 3 of the next 4 to force another Linden TO and it helped the visitors a lot as the next rally went back and forth until finally a kill by the Tigers which they followed up with an ace had SHS nearly out at 23-17.  Barlow notched another kill to cut the lead down to 5 but a service error and a kill ended the match at 25-18.  

A disappointing loss but yet lots of warning signs during the week pointed to this scenario.  In set 1 the Hilltoppers were outscored 18-12 (only 6 kills) and in set 2 SHS was out-scored 14-12 (only 5 kills) which spelled the end for the Summit squad who needed to keep their serving attack clean and failed to do so in this match.  Summit's hitting efficiency was a paltry .077 and the team's kill % was a mere 28.2%.  

Zacharias led the way from the service line with 5 aces and a serve rating of 2.71.  Henry was the team leader on serve receive with a 1.86 pass rating and nearly a 33.3 perfect pass %.  Barlow was the leading scorer on offense with a 4 kill performance while Nowicka was the most efficient hitter at .400 as well as the most lethal with a kill % of 50%.  Henry had 3 digs in the loss and Nardino, Joseph, Nowicka and Zacharias all notched 1 block apiece.  Zacharias had only 10 assists and Zacharias led all Summit scorers with 6 points,  a troubling stat considering the Setter should not be a leading front row scorer. Nowicka earned the best net point production with a +3 for the match.

JV dropped the first set to Rahway in a stunning turn of events by a 25-21 score.  Serve receive errors and numerous hitting errors had the Hilltoppers against the wall in set 1 as Rahway had a commanding 18-9 lead after 6 rotations!  But then Allan stepped up to serve at 19-10 and the comeback was on!  Allan served up 6 service points (3 aces) to bring back the home side to within 4.  The Indians broke serve and pushed the lead back up at 21-15 but SHS responded with a kill and the Devaney rattled off 3 more service points to bring the Top to within striking distance at 21-19.  Rahway called a TO and managed to get a service break and another point which had the visitors close to the set win at 23-19 but Summit again rallied for 2 points but ran out of points to come back from as the visitors celebrated the set 1 win 25-21!

Set 2 was a very tight affair as Rahway seemed intent on keeping balls alive on defense and just sending free balls over hoping for a SHS error while looking to score off their serving offense which had given them so many points in set 1.  Meanwhile,  Summit was trying to find its own potent serving game and use their offense that had been so reliable in scoring the Hilltoppers points over the season.  After 6 rotations,  everything was in question as the home side was staring at a 13-13 score on the scoreboard.  Rahway actually took the lead 15-14 in rotation 7 but Smidt got to step up to the service line after a huge Ge kill and served up an ace and forced a Rahway free ball error to see the Top to a 17-15 lead.  The Hilltoppers did not allow any added points after the service break of Smidt and Chaves added to the lead with an additional service point after breaking the visitor's serve giving the SHS squad a 19-18 lead.  When Ge stepped up to serve,  the junior OH had already made an impact as a receiver,  as a defender and on offense as the OH.  She had been one of the keys to SHS being in the set.  When she stepped up to serve,  she became the last nail in the set 2 coffin for the Rahway side who could not stop her serve as the junior went on a 5-0 run (3 aces) to close out the set and even the match at 1 with a 25-18 score.

Set 3 saw the Indians get first serve.  The visitors wasted no time to jump out to an early lead at 3-0.  The tense atmosphere was palpable.  Ge led the way on the comeback trail with a 3-0 service run of her own to settle the Hilltopper nerves.  The teams were tight though and despite long rallies seemingly at every point,  it was the errors on both sides that prevented either team from making any kind of run.  At the start of rotation 6,  Rahway had gotten a point from a service error by the Top and then scored another point before missing a serve and were looking at a tied set at 10 all.  But then the first decisive run occurred,  this time from the Hilltopper service line.  Knight rattled off 6 consecutive service points (3 aces) to stun the visitors as each point gave the home side more energy.  By the time Rahway broke serve,  they were under tremendous pressure to score quickly as the scoreboard had SHS holding a 16-11 lead.  The Hilltoppers did not allow that to happen as Ge again got a key kill to put herself on serve again and the junior again responded with 2 more service points to give the Top a 19-11 lead.  After the visitors broke serve to get to 19-12,  SHS again slammed the door on any Rahway hope with a Porsse swing which found the floor and put Allan back on serve at 20-12.  Five serves later (2 aces),  Allan had finished the comeback of the year and hopefully prepared the team for their next big match,  the Quarter-Finals of the County Tourney,  against their expected opponent,  Kent Place School,  on Monday 10/16.

Saturday, October 14, 2023



After the big win versus Rahway that assured the Top at least a share of the Conference Title for only the 4th time in school history,  the team just looked out of gas and out of sorts at Madison.  The team scored a total of 23 points and matched the Dodgers but Madison only committed 6 total hitting and serving errors while the Hilltoppers gave up 23.  

Summit ran a much more lethal offense than Madison,  out-killed the home squad 18-12 for the match but the errors negated any advantage the squad might have had in the plus column.  In set 1 the Summit crew out-scored Madison 15-9 which would usually guarantee a win but a 16 error tally to only 7 by the home side sealed the team's fate in set 1 despite a late run that had Summit come from 15-20 down to take the lead 21-20.  Kills by Barlow and Welsh set the table for Henry who aced the Dodgers and kept them out of system which led to a Madison TO that led to a huge Joseph block which gave Summit the 21-20 lead.  But then a hitting error opened the door for Madison who got a kill and a 2 SHS offensive errors to take a 24-21 lead.  However,  that last deficit was too much to overcome and Summit dropped a 25-22 set 1 decision.  Set 2 was far uglier in a lot of ways as the Top saw their last lead be a 2-1 score and then Madison went on a 9-1 run to put the Hilltoppers against the wall.  SHS settled down and stayed even with the Dodgers,  cutting into the lead slightly and seeing the scoreboard show 15-9 but then a 2 offensive hitting error bundle and 2 Dodger kills had the home team comfortable at 19-9.  With the Dodgers up 21-10,  SHS got 2 Barlow kills and a forced a few Madison hitting errors and suddenly the team had life at 22-14.  But again,  a serving error derailed any momentum after a Madison TO and the set and match were over at 25-14.

Bouncing back from a Madison loss would not be easy as their next opponent would be the Cougars of Chatham at Pink-Out!  SHS had had some amazing matches at prior Pink-Outs but had failed to win,  losing to JP Stevens, Cranford and Millburn recently.  Summit yet again outscored their opponents 31-19 for the match and the 25-18, 25-23 set scores were indicative of that fact.  However,  the Top again gave up 20 hitting and serving errors which kept the Cougars in the match far too long.  Summit jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the match with Zacharias hitting for 3 aces in the run while Joseph and Demm struck for kills.  Chatham slowly crawled back and took the lead at 8-7 but SHS responded with a Welsh 4-0 service run that had the Cougars forced to take bad shots and seeing the soph hit for an ace to flip the scoreboard in SHS's favor at 12-7.  With Chatham cutting the lead to 2 at 14-12 a few rotations later,  Demm got a huge momentum changing kill which led to Henry serving the Cougars into a hitting error and Demm again came through with a kill to force a Chatham TO at 17-12.  The Cougars cut the lead down to 19-16 after the TO but again SHS struck back after a Chatham serving error as Welsh again hit an ace and Zacharias got a dump kill to put Summit up 22-16.  Barlow hit 2 kills and Nardino,  back in her first match after missing the last 2 due to illness.  got a monster block on set point seal it at 25-18.

Set 2 saw the Cougars jump out to a 4-0 lead but the home side responded with a 5-0 run with the senior captain Zacharias hitting for 3 aces in a row to lead the mini comeback.  Still down 6-7 a few rotations later,  a kill by Barlow led to a Henry service run that had Nardino also notch a kill and suddenly Summit had a 10-7 lead.  Chatham re-took the lead at 11-12 but a serving error by the visitors opened the door again fot the home side and with Barlow serving,  SHS got a couple of Cougar errors and a Nardino dump kill to take a 14-12 lead.  Despite a service break,  SHS was right back on serve after a Nowicka kill and a Nardino ace set the table for a 4-0 run that had the home side up 18-13 and seemingly on their way to a more comfortable finish.  It all seemed to be going well at 21-15 after a Barlow kill but another service error gave the ball back to Chatham and the visitors had it down to 21-17.  Barlow again,  kill, 22-17.  A service break but Davies gets a kill that puts Welsh on the line to serve and her attempt leads to a Cougar hitting error,  24-18.  Is it over yet?  Not quite...

Chatham fought the odds and used a serving error and a kill followed by an ace after a long rally to spark a 5-0 run that had the Cougars at the doorstep down 24-23.  Chatham fell short after a serving error ended their run but the warning shot by a potential state sectional matchup was received by the SHS crew despite closing it out 25-23.

A 2W-1L week brought a lot of silver linings to light as the squad prepared to face Linden for a 3rd time this season in the UCIAC Tourney.

Summit out-killed all 3 opponents 69-37.  SHS out-aced the opposition 28-18 but was out-blocked 13-4.  In total,  the Hilltoppers out-scored the opposition 101-68 yet the team found themselves in a 3 set match and a tight 2 set match win and had a loss to show for it.  The stats that stood out were the 72 serving and hitting errors combined versus the 31 by the opposition.  It was clear that the warning signs were there for the Top.  If they struggled to score,  the errors would be their undoing.

Zacharias was a stalwart behind the service line with a team leading 2.56 rating and team leading 11 aces.  Joseph stepped up nicely while Nardino was ill and was 2nd on the team in pass rating.  The team hit for 28 aces as a whole and had 2.02 pass rating but the number that stood out were the 33 service errors.  It seemed that the squad had developed a feast or famine approach to the service line.  As much as the serving has been a weapon for the Top,  it has continued to be a source of angst at times.

Henry led the squad on serve receive with a 35.8% perfect pass % while Barlow had the team lead with a 1.99 pass rating.  

Barlow was undoubtedly the busiest hitter with 90 attack attempts,  68 more attempts than any other hitter on the team,  and led the squad with 32 kills with no other hitter getting to double digits.  Zacharias distributed the ball to all other players fairly equally and the stats show that the offense by committee is having positive results.  Demm, Nowicka, Davies and Joseph all clocked in at the end of Thursday with 6 kills apiece.  Demm was specifically effective as she hit for 6 kills on 16 swings with no errors for a .375 hitting efficiency and a 37.5 kill %.  Davies had the highest kill % of the bunch with a 60%.  

Barlow and Henry led the squad defensively with 20 and 17 digs respectively but by having Welsh as the S2 / OPP,  Zacharias notched 12 digs and  has been free to stay at home more and play D as the squad knows there is 0 loss in setting ability when their Captain has to dig that first attack and allows the Soph to run the offensive set.  Joseph averaged 1 block per match to lead the squad.  

Zacharias averaged 20 assists per match in the 2W-1L week which exemplified a very effective offense.  Barlow was the leading scorer for the squad with 36 points but Zacharias stole the show with 16 points playing a position that doesn't really score from the front row.  Demm was the net point leader with a +5.

What team would show up to play Linden for a 3rd time?  The effective serving team with a diverse and dangerous offense?  Or the team that would allow their nerves to rattle them from the service line and pressurized hitting situations?



The JV Hilltoppers continued their bounce back performance after their only loss of the year to New Providence with wins #5 and 6 on the new winning streak set up after the New Providence loss.  On the road to Madison,  the Hilltoppers used 2 runs early in rotations 2 and 3 to blow the set open.  First it was Devaney who struck for 5 service points -2 aces- to open up a 7-4 lead.  After a service break and Madison down 7-5,  Meltzer struck the Dodgers for another 5 service points -2 aces- and the lead stood at 13-5,  a deficit that was not challenged the rest of the way as the Top closed out set 1 25-15.  

Set 2 opened up very well for the Hilltoppers with Basaman opening up a 4-0 lead for the SHS crew and by the third rotation,  with Summit up 6-2,   Chaves put the set to bed as the DS served up 11 service points -4 aces- which had the Top up 17-3 after it was all said and done.  Handal finished the job a few rotations later with a 4-0 run that has SHS celebrating the set and match win 25-7.

For Pink-Out,  the Hilltoppers faced off against the Chatham Cougars in a tremendously competitive 3 set affair that had the home side win in the closest of margins in set 3.  The 1st set had Chatham take the early lead 9-4 after a few rotations but the Hilltoppers fought back behind Chaves 6-0 serving run that had SHS take the lead for the first time in the set 15-11.  By rotation 7,  the home side seemed to have things under control with a 22-14 lead but the Cougars responded in a big way,  outscoring the Top 8-2 over the next few rotations but the Summit squad survived the push and closed out set 1 with a 25-22 win.  

Set 2 was an even affair through 6 rotations but the serving errors and unforced hitting errors began to creep up and despite the 9-9 scoreline,  it was clear that the Top was not playing at its best brand of vball.  Chatham kept pace with the Hilltoppers and took what seemed like a commanding lead of 19-14 in rotation 11 but the home team responded and cut the lead down to 2 at 19-17.  Unfortunately,  the Top could never close that gap as the 2 point deficit seemed to remain through the next 2 rotations until Chatham closed it out 25-22.

The decisive set 3 was a classic with neither team giving an inch.  Allan got SHS going early in rotation one off the service line and gave the home side a 3-1 lead.  Chatham counter-punched and held a 6-3 lead but SHS tied up the score after rotation 2 at 6 all.  After 6 rotations,  the Cougars held a slim 12-10 lead and were able to not only hold that lead but expand it by rotation 10 to a 16-12 score.  Summit used Chaves again to get back into the match as the junior got SHS even again at 17 after a 5-1 service run.  Choussy served up the next run and the home side were looking at a slim 21-20 lead with Chatham serving.  The Cougars tied up the score but Allan again delivered under pressure and Summit held a 23-21 lead.  The visitors tied it back up at 23 but the Hilltoppers broke serve and got the crucial last serve in to finish off a very exciting 25-23 set 3 and match win to improve to 16-1!

Next up,  Rahway in first round of County Tourney!


The 9th Graders hosted Madison on Tuesday and Chatham on Thursday to wrap up the 2023 campaign.  

The young Hilltoppers ended the week with with 2 WINS and finished the 2023 campaign with a 12W-2L record!

12W-2L is the 3rd highest winning % (.857) in the history of the 9th grade program

12 Wins is the most wins in the history of the program

The team's only losses came to Union and the most recent Union match showed how improved the squad had become over the season!  The wins versus Chatham and Madison showed great potential for the future as those programs are perennial consistent performers in county and state tournaments on Varsity level.

Individuals will be highlighted at the End of the Year Celebration soon to be announced.

Congratulations to Coach Seifert and the entire team for their amazing season!!!