Saturday, November 19, 2022


The last chapter of the 2022 season has been written,  the new 2023 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 % (3rd Best since 2010)

3rd Most Wins (2nd Most since 2010)

Best Offense (#1 Kills and Kills/Set)

3rd Most Aces 

Most Blocks (#1 Total and #3 Blocks/Set)

Most Digs (#1 Total Digs)

Most Points Scored (#1 Total and #1 Points/Set)






(First Since 2011)


Hilltopper Award

9th- Lynn Basaman, Haidyn Knight

Junior Varsity- Elizabeth Walsh

Varsity- Zoe Zacharias

Most Improved Player Award

9th- Callie Armstrong

Junior Varsity- Emma Herring

Varsity- Hannah Barlow

Most Impactful Player Award

9th- Sophie Meltzer

Junior Varsity- Molly Davies

Varsity- Vivian Roberts

School Record Recognition

Hannah Barlow and Zoe Zacharias

Alison Wauters, Vivian Roberts and Cece Webb

Player of the Match Recognition

Alison Wauters, Hannah Roberts and Vivian Roberts

Abby Thompson, Naya Kim, Zoe Zacharias and Emily Demm

Independent Volleyball Awards

Vivian Roberts

MaxPreps Summit High School Player of the Year

American Volleyball Coaches Association Best and Brightest Selection

American Volleyball Coaches Association High School Region 2 All-Star

UCIAC Conference and Union County Volleyball Recognition

Vivian Roberts

First Team Mountain Division

Zoe Zacharias 

First Team Mountain Division

Hannah Barlow

Honorable Mention Mountain Division

Vivian Roberts

First Team All County

Zoe Zacharias

Second Team All County

Thursday, November 3, 2022


 The Mustangs of  Kennedy Memorial had a tough and competitive GMC schedule and had nothing to lose against the Top and it showed early.  The Kennedy Memorial squad stunned the Hilltoppers with a set 1 win (19-25) in a set that saw the Mustangs out-score the Top 13-11 and benefit from 8 points that Summit gifted the Green and White through 5 service errors and 3 faults (net, ball handling).

Set 2 saw the Summit squad dismantle the Mustangs with a 15-8 advantage as the home team hit for 9 kills and 6 aces to offset 5 serving errors and finish with a 25-15 set 2 win.

Set 3 was a runaway early as Zacharias ran off the first 11 points to give the SHS Team an 11-0 lead and,  despite a late Mustang run that had the visitors as close as 22-18,  Summit closed it out 25-19 after a 20-7 earned point advantage fueled by 7 blocks and a 7 ace (to only 4 errors), 6 kill performance to move the Hilltoppers to the Quarter-Finals.

Despite the win,  the warning signs were there of the danger ahead.  The team hit for an incredible 18 aces but it also tallied 14 errors.  What would happen if the aces were not to be had?  Could the team offense overcome it?  

Match Statistical Leaders:

Serving: Barlow 5 aces 

Serve Rating: Barlow and Wauters 2.33

Receiving (Perfect Passes): Barlow 5 

Receiving (Pass Rating): Barlow 2.00

Attack (Kills): Barlow 9

Attack (Kill %): Roberts 54.5%

Attack (Efficiency): Roberts .455

Defense (Blocks): Nardino 5

Defense (Digs): Barlow 7

Defense (Dig %): Barlow 100%

Assists: Zacharias 20

Millburn had come in last year as a 5 seed and fell to the Top in straight sets in a tough match for the Top.  Summit was a clear favorite this year in comparison and it would take a certain set of circumstances to derail the SHS train.  Unfortunately,  the Millers were good enough to use the SHS errors to their full advantage and score a big win over the Hilltoppers and earn a berth in the semis versus Rahway.  

Summit beat Millburn 25-21 in set 1 but the Millers actually out-killed the Top 7-5 and Summit managed only 8 points to the Millers 10 but the home squad got 6 points from hitting errors and 4 from free ball return errors which offset the one stat that really should have given pause to the celebration in set 1 and that was that the Summit Hilltoppers had only hit for 2 aces but had tallied 8 errors.  

Set 2 was a heartbreaker as the SHS team out-scored the Millers 16-13 behind a 10 kill effort and it seemed to be enough late in the set to get Summit to the semis but,  despite a Wauters kill bringing SHS a 22-16 lead and almost a certain victory,  the Top saw the Millers storm back to win the set 28-26.  The Millburn squad left the best for last in the set,  hitting for 3 aces and forcing one overpass in a perfect 9-0 serving run that turned the game on its head while the Hilltoppers managed only 2/4 from the service line from the 22-16 scoreline. 

The silver lining of this match and of the season was this team's ability to fight through adversity as this pattern was more of the norm than the exception this year.  The Hilltoppers won the overwhelming majority of their sets coming from behind or fighting off an opponent's surge in the set.  This match was no different.  SHS saw the Millers take a 23-22 lead but in the next vital point,  the Top crushed an attack and earned a 23 tie and then got another kill for a match point.  Unfortunately,  that did not come to fruition and Millburn took advantage of key Summit errors and timely offense to earn a 28-26 set 2 victory despite being out-scored by the home team.

Set 3 started normally with SHS doing its usual start,  down 4-1 after 1 rotation, but the home team crawled its way slowly back and was only down by 2 at 7-9 before the wheels came off the proverbial car.  A kill by the Millers,  a net error and an attacking fault by SHS had the visitors up 12-7.  A kill by Summit stopped the run but a free ball return error followed by an ace had the Millers up 14-8 and Martins called a TO.  The stoppage did very little as the Millers got the lead to 16-8 on 2 consecutive hitting errors by the Top after 2 perfect serve receive passes.  Millburn then committed a hitting error of their own and that sparked a Barlow mini service run that saw Millburn fail to return the ball twice and Summit felt the comeback happening with the scoreboard showing 11-16.  Time-Out Millburn.

Unfortunately,  the Millers stopped the Barlow service run but yet again SHS responded with a kill and the gap remained 5 at 12-17.  Time was running out but the Hilltoppers had been here before and there was belief in this squad.  But then the error gremlin showed up out of nowhere and the positive vibes that had re-emerged all but disappeared.  

Blocking error SHS,  fault SHS,  attack error SHS,  free ball return error SHS and finally,  kill Summit... the damage already done though as the Hilltoppers trailed 21-13.  But again,  the culture that has been established is to battle despite the odds.  And battle the Hilltoppers did despite being down 22-13.  

Free ball return error Millburn,  ace SHS,  kill Summit,  kill Summit,  fault Millburn... 22-18 Millburn...

Net error SHS, hitting error Millers... 23-19...  fault Summit and Millburn has 5 match points... Summit kill and SHS serve forces a free ball return error for a 24-21 scoreline... Millburn takes it on the next point and ends the Hilltoppers season as the team falls on the wrong side of the knife's edge the team played on all year.

Summit outscored Millburn in the third set 13-11 but the Millers had only 2 hitting errors in the set and get called for only 1 fault while the Hilltoppers have 4 hitting errors and get called for 6 faults,  the highest number all season in a match... Summit hits for 3 aces to only 2 errors and the Millers go 1 ace to 3 errors.  In the last 2 sets,  Summit tallies 7 aces but commits 7 errors while the Millers go 5 aces 3 errors (a perfect 4 aces - 0 errors 2nd set).  

Summit outscored Millburn 37-34 in the match with one more kill, block and ace than the Millers.  Both teams committed 11 hitting errors but the key was that the Millburn squad had a +0 net result from the service line with 8 aces and 8 errors (5 in the first set) while SHS tallied 9 aces and 15 errors (-6 net) in a match decided by 6 points.  

Summit passed far better than the Millers and forced the visitors into double the free ball return errors that SHS tallied but the 7-3 serving error advantage the Millers had over sets 2 and 3 became the story,  especially late in set 2 when the Millburn team was perfect from the service line and the Summit side could not match their execution.  

So proud of the "no quit" attitude and the compete level when this team could have easily given up.  It reveals the character that was on this team all season.  We won 16 matches,  won 37 of the 61 sets we played and had an overall record in 3 set matches of 10W-5L.  You can't do this without being a resilient team who handled adversity really well during the season,  especially when they had must win matches versus Rahway,  Cranford and Union to win the first divisional title in 11 years!!!  It WAS a great year,  just not the end we had hoped.  

Match Statistical Leaders:

Serving: Barlow 4 aces 

Serve Rating: Barlow 2.47

Receiving (Perfect Passes): Barlow 9 

Receiving (Pass Rating): Wauters 2.64

Attack (Kills): Roberts 9

Attack (Kill %): Wauters 41.7%

Attack (Efficiency): Wauters .250

Defense (Blocks): Nardino 2

Defense (Digs): Wauters 9

Defense (Dig %): Wauters 90%

Assists: Zacharias 19


Kills: Summit 602 - Opponents 412

Blocks: Summit 83 - Opp 50

Aces:  Summit 224 - Opp 191

Serving Errors: Summit 267 - Opp 177

Faults: Summit 85 - Opp 46


 The last week of the regular season brought some mixed results for the program but also delivered a lot of lessons to the teams.

9th Graders finished their season off with a much more physical and experienced Mendham squad and fought hard to the end but came up a little short in a 2-1 loss to the Minutemen.  The squad has shown a drastic improvement from the beginning of the season and competed well against teams out of the conference as they achieved the 3rd best record at the 9th grade level and had only one loss in the conference although they defeated that team later in the season.  

Junior Varsity were exceptional after their loss to Westfield in the County Semi-Finals and delivered two wins versus Mendham and Dayton to close out the season.  Despite injuries and illnesses,  the squad began to look like a consistent offensive squad who could play with anyone and delivered the last two wins of the season.

Varsity dropped a 2-1 decision to Dayton but Roberts suffered a thumb injury that forced the senior out of action from early 2nd set until the end of the match.  The Top featured a lineup the rest of the way that was comprised of players who are expected to take on major roles next year and the squad did not disappoint but the execution at times was not at the level it needed to be to earn the W on this day.  The experience though,  invaluable. 

Mendham came in for Senior Night and beat the Hilltoppers 2-0 as Roberts yet again was limited due to the injury and the future team members showed an improved level of play quality just from the Dayton match as they pushed a more seasoned and experienced Minutemen squad to a tight 2-0 loss.  

The two matches however revealed yet again what the Hilltoppers already knew this season:  if the aces weren't going to come easily,  the errors would hurt this team and put that much more pressure on the offensive output.  

In the last week of the season, with a part-time Roberts in tow,  SHS hit only 12 aces but also tallied 20 errors for a net -8 points.  Meanwhile,  their opponents,  had a combined 22 aces and only 20 errors for a net +2,  a 10 point swing, or a 5 point average differential each match.  Against Dayton,  the total point differential was 7 at the end of the match and against Mendham,  7 as well.  Serving consistency has been as much of the team's identity as its offense and blocking and it is no surprise that this squad played more 3 set matches than any other squad in the history of the program as the team could be just lethal to opponents from the service line or it could be lethal to itself,  all in the same match.  

The path was set for Sectionals,  could the Hilltoppers' offense and blocking be enough to power the squad to a semi-final match for the third season in a row? Only time would tell...

2 Match Statistical Leaders:

Serving: Wauters 3 aces 

Serve Rating: Barlow 2.33

Receiving (Perfect Passes): Barlow 12 

Receiving (Pass Rating): Barlow 1.94

Attack (Kills): Barlow 18

Attack (Kill %): Roberts 58.8%

Attack (Efficiency): Roberts .588

Defense (Blocks): Nardino 4

Defense (Digs): Barlow 13

Defense (Dig %): Yarden 77.8%

Assists: Zacharias 49

Saturday, October 22, 2022


 The Junior Varsity came off their great showing versus the Westfield Blue Devils in the County Semi-Finals and followed it up with a solid performance versus the Crusaders of ALJ.  The Hilltoppers took a solid serving performance and used Davies and Nowicka to power the offense that set up a 25-15 set 1 win that never really looked in doubt.

Set 2 saw much of the same as Meltzer and Smidt powered the Top to a 15-6 lead from the service line while Ge and Herring did the damage up front.  Cammarano,  Handal and Smidt turned away many Crusader attacks as the squad improved to 14W-5L with a Cammarano OPP kill on match point to wrap up set 2 25-19.


Varsity took on the Madison Dodgers at home in a late added matchup as both teams had exited the their respective County Tournaments and were looking for quality matchups to prepare for the state sectional run.  Madison entered the matchup at 15W-4L and the winner of the NJAC Liberty Division while Summit similarly held a 13W-4L record and had earned their first division title in the Mountain Division since 2011.  On paper,  it seemed like a "pick 'em" matchup and it turned out to be a very competitive and exciting match in "IRL".

Summit began the opening set 2-0 after a Zacharias setter dump but the Dodgers roared right back with a 3-0 run to take the lead back 3-2.  This was the pattern for most of set one as neither team could muster a long run and the defenses held strong through most of the set.   As evidence to this pattern,  after Wauters had knotted things up at 5,  Summit went to the senior for 2 more kills and got a block as well from the OPP to see their lead expand to 9-5.  But Madison answered back with a 5-1 run and the score differential was back where it started with both teams tied at 10.  

Later in set 1,  SHS held a 16-15 lead but the Dodgers ripped 2 aces to take control at 17-16.  But this time,  the Top responded with a sustained run that made all the difference in the final result.  It started with a Madison service error and Barlow used the opportunity to get an ace of her own in the next service attempt.  Then,  Wauters ripped another kill and Roberts continued her stellar defensive play of late,  stuff blocking the Dodger middle attack which forced Madison to call a TO at 20-17.  The TO did not deter the Hilltoppers and Barlow again hit for an ace off the break in action.  Despite a service break, Wauters again stepped up,  getting a kill to switch serve,  followed up with an ace and then saw Roberts tally a tip kill to give SHS a 24-19 lead they would not relinquish as they closed out the set 25-20 with a Roberts kill.  

Set 2 proved to be a near copy of the opening set except that the Top were the victims of a sustained run this time,  not the visitors.  After a Barlow spike had pulled SHS on top by a 12-10 lead,  Madison went on a 6-0 run to take control at 12-16.  Summit responded and got an ace by Henry to crawl back to within 2 at 14-16 but the Dodgers slammed the door with another 3-0 run which forced a Martins TO.  

Off the TO,  Barlow and Roberts tallied 2 kills to get Summit within 3 but as the pattern had been most of the match thus far,  no further sustained momentum was in the works and the visitors tallied 6 of the next 10 points to close out set 2 25-20.

The entire match had echoes of the Governor Livingston matchup and the squad needed to put some of those ghosts behind them.  Could the Top overcome a 2nd set loss and take the match?  With the score 8-8 after 4 rotations it seemed that the task was going to be a most difficult one for both teams as both squads seemed to be a different side of the same coin.  But as has been the trend most of the year,  when there is doubt,  Roberts steps up and delivers.  The senior OH got 2 kills and Zacharias surprised everyone with a dump kill and just like that there was daylight between the squads at 11-8.  Madison broke the SHS serve but the home side came back with a Barlow tip kill and a long rally that Barlow again terminated to give Summit an emotional 14-9 lead and force a Madison TO.  After the TO,  Barlow again found the court 2 more times despite Dodger service breaks and after a down ball kill by Roberts 3 rotations later,  SHS held a 19-13 lead.  Madison kept fighting and got to within 4 at 21-17 but a service error and a Thompson ace pushed the Summit lead to 23-17 and forced the last Dodger TO.  The pause in action was to no avail as Roberts stuff blocked the next Madison attack and Thompson ripped another ace to give the Top a huge win versus the #27 ranked (NJP) team in the state.

Match Statistical Leaders:

Serving: Thompson 3 aces 

Serve Rating: Thompson 2.50

Receiving (Perfect Passes): Henry 4 

Receiving (Pass Rating): Henry 2.00

Attack (Kills): Barlow and Roberts 10

Attack (Kill %): Wauters 53.8%

Attack (Efficiency): Roberts .320

Defense (Blocks): Webb 4

Defense (Digs): Roberts 15

Defense (Dig %): Barlow and Wauters 100%

Assists: Zacharias 27


Playing without Barlow for this match,  the Top looked to use its bench depth to secure win #15 for the campaign and solidify their top 4 state sectional ranking.  Welsh got the nod as Setter to quarterback the offense and the 9th grader looked to gain some invaluable experience in a pressurized game situation.  Demm got tabbed to be the OH2 and take the reigns of that part of the Hilltopper offense in Barlow's absence while Kulabas would get to play in the back-row in the 6 zone in the junior's stead.  The Libero duo of Yarden and Henry would sit set 1 to give way to Feuerstake and Thompson who would fill in defensively for the middle blockers.   Roberts, Wauters, Webb and Nardino played their usual roles in set 1.  

Things did not begin well.  Summit was down to the home side 4-0 before the match was 2 minutes old and it took an ALJ net error to give the ball back to SHS.  Wauters began heating up early with a kill from the OH slot and Feuerstake drove an ace deep into Crusader territory to get the Hilltoppers to within 2 at 3-5.  Despite a service break,  Summit continued to look for Wauters to keep the offense going and the senior ripped another kill, this time from the OPP position and one rotation later hit a bullet of a serve that the ALJ defense failed to return to keep the Top within striking distance at 6-9.  A 3-0 run by ALJ again put some distance between the home side and the visitors and even though Summit yet again had cut the lead to 4 after a Roberts kill,  the Crusaders got a service error and nailed 2 aces of their own to open the lead up to 8 at 17-9.  SHS got a gift in the form of a service error and then forced the Crusaders into a back-row attack error which gave the frosh Welsh the opportunity to blister an ace and the Top were still in it down by 5 at 12-17.  Unfortunately,  the Crusaders won 6 of the next 8 points and the Hilltoppers seemed out of sorts,  giving the ALJ squad 2 hitting errors, 1 service error and an ace in that run.  

At 23-14 for the home team,  all seemed inevitable but the Hilltoppers continued to try to find some rhythm to their game.  Roberts got a kill,  Webb added a block and Thompson notched a kill and an ace to fuel a 6-1 run that had the Hilltoppers within sniffing distance of the home side but ALJ was able to close it out 25-20.

Set 2 saw the return of Zacharias and the front row got a refresh with Wells on the OH and Kim on the Opp with Wauters still playing back-row in that position.  Yarden came in as Libero for the set as the Hilltoppers were looking at a must win set on the road.  Summit opened up some breathing room early as Wells quickly got into the match with a kill and teammate Yarden tallied an ace which was then followed up by a Kim kill out of the OPP and punctuated by a Webb block to give SHS a 5-2 lead.  The teams traded points and ALJ found itself still down by 3 at 8-5 when Roberts hit a down ball kill that sparked a 3-0 run (ace Wauters, Roberts tip kill) which had the ALJ side looking at an 11-5 scoreboard.  Roberts continued to be a menace over the next few rotations and added 2 more kills to bring Summit closer to the set win at 13-6.  ALJ fought back and hit for a kill and an ace and there was some hope left at 13-8 SHS.  This was quickly dashed as the Crusaders failed to keep an out-of-system ball alive and then suffered a Nardino stuff block which forced a TO with Summit ahead 15-8.  Down 16-10,  the Crusaders manufactured an 8-1 run (4 SHS errors) to suddenly put the pressure on the Top trailing only by 1 at 18-17 forcing a Hilltopper TO.  The subsequent play after the pause in action saw Wells put up a perfect pass to Zacharias who found Webb out of the middle for a point and then Roberts again came through on defense blocking the ALJ middle for a 20-17 lead.  The Crusaders kept pushing though and won 3 of the next 4 points to crawl back to within 1 at 21-20 but Yarden perfectly covered a tip attack by the Crusaders which gave Roberts the opportunity to send a ball to the campfire zone for a crucial kill to give the Hilltoppers a 22-20 lead and then Thompson powered a shot from the service line that forced a free ball back to the Top which Roberts put away for a 23-20 lead.  ALJ called a TO to no avail as the Crusaders notched an attack error and Thompson scorched an ace to zone 1 for a set two win at 25-20.

The deciding set 3 began rather auspiciously as the Top was down 4-1 early.  The offense did not get going until Wells got a tip kill out of the OH slot which triggered a 7-1 Summit run sparked by 2 kills by Roberts, 1 by Webb and 2 aces by Wauters to give SHS a 9-7 lead.  A few rotations later,  with the score tied at 10,  an ALJ service error opened the door for a 3-1 run (Zacharias kill and ace) that had the Hilltoppers up 14-11.  The Crusaders got a kill to break serve but Nardino crushed a slide attack and then Yarden served the ALJ side into trouble forcing an error by the home side which led to a 16-12 SHS lead and an ALJ TO.  Off the time-out,  Summit went to Wauters again and the senior put a kill down to get the Hilltoppers up by 5.  The teams traded points over the next few rotations but Wauters again stepped up with another crucial kill and then Webb put a ball through the floor to give Summit an insurmountable 20-14 lead late in the set.  Nardino made her presence felt again on defense with a block and a Roberts serve forced an ALJ return error and Summit could sense victory was within its grasp at 23-17. 

The Crusaders made one last push and got themselves to within 4 at 24-20 but,  appropriately enough,  it was Wauters again who got one last kill to seal the set and the win, 25-20,  for the team's 15th victory of the year.  

Match Statistical Leaders:

Serving: Wauters 3 aces 

Serve Rating: Wauters 2.59

Receiving (Perfect Passes): Yarden 4 

Receiving (Pass Rating): Roberts 1.78

Attack (Kills): Roberts 10

Attack (Kill %): Wauters 54.5%

Attack (Efficiency): Roberts .364

Defense (Blocks): Webb 4

Defense (Digs): Yarden 9

Defense (Dig %): Wauters 100%

Assists: Zacharias 23


Thursday, October 20, 2022


 The sub-varsity levels of the program had a busy week with the Junior Varsity preparing for their Semi-Final in the UCIAC Tournament against top seeded Westfield and the 9th Graders took on battle tested Bridgewater-Raritan and the Vikings of Union Catholic as the young Hilltoppers continued to work through the hardest schedule ever created for this level.

Junior Varsity had only been to the County Semis three other times in their past history,  losing to Westfield in a non-competitive 2 sets,  going down to Cranford 2-1 in an epic battle on the road and most recently,  dropping a tough 3-set decision at home to Scotch Plains-Fanwood.  This year,  the Top would have to travel to Westfield once again and try not to replay the last battle with the Blue Devils.  

The Blue Devils this season were built upon consistent serving and an exceptionally lethal offense.  The Top relies upon tough serving to score and create easier transition opportunities to score.  Could the Hilltopper serving and defense slow the Westfield offense enough to get a win?  In set 1,  almost.  The Top played an outstanding set on the road but the Westfield offense came through in the clutch points as did their serve receive to derail the first set hopes of the Hilltoppers.  The second set was a bit more lopsided on the scoreboard but the performance was not any worse in reality,  the home side was just able to handle the Hilltopper serving attack and score more consistently whereas the Top struggled in 3 rotations to deal with the #1 team's serve and create opportunities out of those plays.  A complete TEAM EFFORT against a team that expected an easy match and got a heck of battle from our Lady Hilltoppers!  Proud of you kids and Coach Ross!

The 9th Graders continued to face top level opposition in the form of Bridgewater-Raritan who has many young athletes with multi-year experience in club teams in order to challenge the level of play the team currently displays and to gain a better understanding of the level of play that will be necessary to be successful at the next level.  This has been,  by far,  the most games and most difficult schedule of any 9th grade program to date.  The young Hilltoppers have been doing amazing in their learning curve despite the results not reflecting that at times.  At 9W-3L entering the match with BR,  it is evident it has been a successful season thus far. 

The Top challenged the visitors and actually held a slight 2 point lead late in set 1 but the strength of the BR squad is their consistent serving and attack and the visitors had not yet gotten on track until the second time around the rotation in set one when they began to put pressure on the Lady Hilltoppers and get easier transition opportunities on offense.  Summit dropped set 1 late although the close score showed the young athletes they could compete.

Whereas the first set saw Bridgewater Raritan struggle for consistency,  the second set saw the visitors not miss a play early while the Top struggled to find a groove of consistency.  The BR crew controlled the set and used their best servers early in rotation one so as not to have a repeat of set one and the strategy paid off and the Top walked off disappointed by the 2-0 loss,  dropping their record to 9W-4L.

On Wednesday,  the Top looked to take those lessons learned and rebound in a conference matchup with the Vikings of Union Catholic.  The Top came out with a much more consistent performance and saw their efforts pay off.  Lisa Smidt started off the match with a 3-0 serving run and the team kept the Vikings at bay on their serve off the next 2 rotations and that gave Lynn Basaman the opportunity to deliver from the service line.  The Libero ripped an 8-0 serving run and the Top had pretty much sealed the set with a 13-3 lead by rotation 3.  Natalie Wu followed up with a 4-0 service run and the Hilltoppers were on their way to a 25-9 set one win.

Set 2 began very similarly with Vivian Allan setting the home side up with a 3-0 service run to give the Top a 4-1 lead but after 6 rotations it was the Viking squad who had control at 17-10.  Basaman again was key from the service line with a few service points that gave the Top hope by rotation 8 trailing by 18-14 and the entire defense did not allow more that a single point over 5 rotations to give Summit a shot to get back into the set from the service line.  Smidt,  Morgan Paiement, Callie Armstrong were key in the run that saw SHS tie the score at 23 by rotation 11 and the Lady Hilltoppers hung tough and ended the Viking's hopes a rotation later sealing the set 2 and match win 25-23!  That was the 10th victory of the season for the young ladies and they sit one win away from tying the most amount of wins in program history for a 9th grade program.  Congrats to THE ENTIRE SQUAD and Coach Seifert!  ONE MORE TO GO!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2022


 The Lady Hilltoppers Volleyball squad had a massive week ahead of them,  a first round County Tournament match versus New Providence,  the yearly Pink Out match,  and hopefully the Quarter-Final Match in County Tournament.

The first round match was a typical affair for the Top in this, the 3rd meeting of the year between the Pioneers and the Hilltoppers.  Summit was down 4-1 early but the home team got an ace by Caroline Henry and 2 kills by Alison Wauters to flip the score to 5-4 and the match was on.  A 6-0 run by the SHS squad gave control to Summit as Vivian Roberts got into the match with 3 kills and Wauters added 1 ace while Cece Webb notched a kill out of the middle to force a Pioneer TO with the Hilltoppers ahead 13-6.  After the time-out,  the home side got a New Prov hitting error and a massive block by Webb and the set was essentially over at 15-6.  Over the next few rotations,  Summit got an Abby Thompson ace and a Hannah Barlow kill and the rest was academic with Summit up 19-8.  Summit closed it out 25-16.

Set 2 saw the pin hitters switch to Emily Demm, Anna Joseph and Abby Wells.  Naya Kim took on one of the MB spots while frosh McKenna Welsh stepped in as the setter.  Ava Feuerstake and Ece Kulabas rounded out the backcourt on the DS spots as the Hilltoppers looked to dispatch the Pioneers in two.  Down early again by a 7-4 tally,  SHS benefited from 3 consecutive visitor errors and knotted up the score at 7.  New Prov regained control over the next two rotations and the Top was staring at a 13-9 deficit.  Summit then reacted with a kill by Cece Webb to cut the lead down to 13-11 but the Summit side could not gain much momentum and were still trailing 18-15 a few rotations later.  A visitor kill and a hitting error by the Top and a 20-15 score was showing on the scoreboard.  A Welsh ace and a New Prov hitting error gave some hope to the SHS side but that was short lived as the home side suffered through a visitor 3-0 run that put the set out of reach at 23-17.  SHS did not give up and fought back with a three point run of their own as Barlow got back to the front line to notch 2 kills and Wauters returned to the match with a kill of her own to make it 22-24 but it was too little too late and the home side dropped set 2 25-22.

The deciding set 3 was a bit anti-climactic as Summit jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Wauters (1 kill), Zoe Zacharias (2 aces),  Julia Nardino (1 kill) and Barlow (1 kill) all contributed to ease any tensions early by the home side.  New Prov reacted a few rotations later and got to within 4 at 11-7 but a 5-1 run by the Hilltoppers set the stage for a 3 set win as Roberts notched 3 kills and Nardino added another to give the Top a 16-8 lead and force a Pioneer TO.  Summit never allowed the visitors to cut into that lead again and closed it out 25-13 with an exclamation point by Roberts.

Summit came back on Thursday in their Pink Out event against the Cranford Cougars in the rubber match of the season.  The crowd was amazing,  the match was exciting and the revenue raised for Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer was incredible.  The Top, however,  found it hard to keep control of their intensity and emotion as the team yielded a 7-0 run to start the match and never recovered.  SHS got to within 4 at 10-14 but then had a net fault,  gave up an ace and a kill forcing a Coach Martins TO at 10-17 but never challenged again as the Cougars closed it out 25-16.  

Set 2 was a much more closely fought endeavor as both teams found themselves knotted at 11 after a Cougar ball handling error, a Barlow kill and a big stuff block by Nardino.  But the Cougars then ripped an 8-0 run (3 aces, 3 kills, 2 SHS hitting errors) which seemed to spell the end for the Top.  Coach Martins tried to stop momentum with 2 TOs in the midst of the run but to no avail and it took a Cougar serving error before the run was over.  Barlow then stepped up and forced Cranford into a passing error with her serve and added an ace to get the Top within 5.  At 21-15,  Summit got a big block by Wauters and a kill by Roberts to get the score to 21-17.  At 22-17,  a serving error again gave the Top hope and Roberts notched another kill while Thompson forced the Cougars into errors with her pressure serving run and the Top crawled to within 1 at 22-21.  Roberts kept the Hilltoppers in play with another kill at 22-23 but the Cougars got a serving error from the home side and were looking at 2 match points.  Barlow kill, 23-24, Stella Yarden dig to a Zacharias pass to a Barlow kill, 24-24.  Cougar kill, 25-24, match point #3.  Barlow kill, 25-25 but Cranford kill follows for match point #4.  Hitting error by the Cougars,  26-26.  The Cougars recovered though and followed up with a kill (match point #5) and finally closed it out with an ace for an incredible finish to a great match.  

Friday the 14th marked the 3rd consecutive year the Hilltoppers made it to the Quarter-Finals of the County Tournament and the team were looking to become only the third in school history to make it to Semis.  To do that,  Summit would have to get through the Highlanders of Governor Livingston on the road in a 4 vs. 5 matchup.  The only recent win over GL had been in 2021 but at home after dropping the away match in the first match of the season so the task was not easy.

Set one began rather well for the Top as 2 errors by GL and a Zacharias ace gave Summit an early 3-1 lead.  The home side had reversed the score and led 7-5 but a serving error and a block by Webb had the Hilltoppers knotted up at 7.  Down 9-7,  Summit surprised the Highlanders with a 4-0 run (Roberts 3 kills, Nardino 1 kill) and Summit saw themselves up 11-9.  Not surprisingly,  this set and match became a slugfest with both teams swinging away and neither team being able to take control consistently so any sustained run by either team was going to have a massive impact.  In set 1,  it happened at 16-16 for Summit.  

A serving error by GL began the run and Thompson stepped up with an ace and the next serve led to a free ball by GL that gave Roberts an opportunity that she would not waste and add to her kill total.  Late in the set,  19-16 Summit.  A few rotations later,  Zacharias caught the GL squad by surprise with a setter dump and SHS went to 22-19 and Wauters stuff blocked GL's best OH to give Summit a 23-19 lead and force a Highlander TO.  The pause in action worked as the home side got the ball back but SHS got another Wauters block and stunned the Highlanders with a Roberts kill to close out set 1 25-20.

Set two was going to be a fight and the Top knew it and was prepared for it.  Yet again a sudden point run became the early difference in the set.  With the score 7-5 Summit after a foot fault by the Top,  SHS got a 4-0 run with another dump kill by Zacharias and a tip kill by Barlow to fuel the 11-5 lead.  GL responded with a 4-0 run of their own but a sudden injury forced a GL TO.  Off the pause,  Barlow got a quick kill to start a 3-0 run that saw Nardino get a kill and Zacharias notch an ace.  Despite a GL service break,  Summit again got a 3-0 run (Barlow and Webb kills) to give Summit a 17-10 lead and the visitors could sense the upset brewing.  GL responded with a 3-0 run just to see Summit respond back with a 2-0 run.  Governor Livingston got a kill to cut the lead to 19-14 but then SHS ripped 2 kills by Roberts forcing a GL TO with a 21-14 SHS lead.  The Top could see the finish line.  Could they cross it for the first time in 11 years?

Attack error GL, 22-14. The dream was becoming the reality if SHS could just avoid unnecessary unforced errors.   Unfortunately,  GL got a 13-3 run that ripped the heart of the Top and kept the Highlanders alive.  In that run,  Summit managed only 1 of 4 serves in which opened the door for the Highlanders to take the set away from the Hilltoppers.  GL in the same run,  went 7/8 with 2 aces.  And the dream became the nightmare in set 3 as a consequence.

The 13-3 run that ended the second set became a 21-4 run with set 3 seeing GL open up an 8-1 lead they never gave up.  Summit and GL went at each other the rest of the way but the reality was that the 8-1 run became the defining moment of the deciding set as the Top never got any closer to the Highlanders.  

Summit got 29 kills, 5 blocks and 6 aces for 40 points in the match.  GL got 32 kills, 2 blocks and 9 aces for 43 points.  Summit committed 8 hitting errors, 4 free ball errors, was called for 6 faults and had 12 serving errors for a -30 points.  Governor Livingston had 10 hitting errors, i free ball error, were called for 2 faults and had 13 service errors for a -26 points.  In summary, the point spread of a close 4 vs. 5 matchup.

Despite the tough loss,  the Hilltoppers were never any closer to earning a trip to the Semi-Finals in recent history.  The lessons learned will be invaluable in the long term despite the short-term pain.  

The following are the combined individual highlights for the week:  

Match Statistical Leaders:

Serving: Zacharias 6 aces 

Serve Rating: Zacharias 2.06

Receiving (Perfect Passes): Henry 16 

Receiving (Pass Rating): Roberts 1.91

Attack (Kills): Roberts 34

Attack (Kill %): Roberts 45.3%

Attack (Efficiency): Roberts .347

Defense (Blocks): Webb 7

Defense (Digs): Roberts 27

Defense (Dig %): Barlow 90.9%

Assists: Zacharias 61


 The 9th Graders stepped  up in class with the Millburn Millers this week as they opened and closed the week with the Blue and White and hosted Payne Tech on program's Pink Out match.  The Millers swept the Top 2-0 in both matches and SHS took care of business against Payne Tech to wrap up a 1W-2L week which saw the squad go to 9W-3L.  Summit has Bridgewater-Raritan,  Union Catholic and Mendham left on their schedule for the year and can earn the most wins ever in program history with  3 victories and tie the record with 2 more wins!

Junior Varsity opened the first round of the County Tournament against the Roselle Catholic Lions and came away with a 2-0 win by 25-12, 25-6 scores.  In the first set,  Summit went on 2-0 runs in every rotation first time through the lineup and held a 12-6 lead.  But in rotation 7,,  Gabby Nowicka stepped up and delivered a 5-0 service run (3 aces) to extend the lead to 18-6 and effectively ending the Lions hopes as the Top finished off set 1 3 rotations later at 25-12.

Set 2 proved to be much of the same with Mira Oberoi opening up rotation 1 with an 8-0 run that gave Summit a 9-1 lead.  Kate Cooper followed up in rotation 2 with a 5-0 run that had SHS with a 15-3 lead.  It was all academic after that as Emmy Handal finished it off in rotation 4 with an 8-0 run (4 aces) to get SHS to the Quarter-Finals versus Linden with a 25-6 victory.  

For the Pink Out event on Thursday night,  the Top faced off against the Summit killer Cougars who had a hand in 2 of the 3 Summit losses this campaign.  Make it now 3 of the 4 losses but an improved effort as the Top dropped set 1 by a 25-23 scoreline and held a 19-18 lead late in set 2 before yielding 5-0 run to the Cougars who led on to a 25-21 set 2 win.  

But the squad rebounded nicely from the loss with a dominant Quarter-Final win versus the Tigers of Linden,  their 3rd win over the Tigers this season by tallies of 25-12 and 25-11.  In set 1,  the Tigers held close through the first 2 rotations trailing the Hilltoppers by only 2 points at 8-6 but Cooper extended the lead with a 3-0 run and Molly Davies finished off any Linden hopes with an 8-0 run (3 aces) that gave the Top an insurmountable 21-9 lead on their way to a 25-12 set one win.  Set 2 was much of the same with Handal ripping a 5-0 run (2 aces) in rotation 4 to give the SHS side a 13-3 lead.  The Tigers were unable to respond over the next 3 rotations and Summit continued to gather multiple points in those same rotations as the home side wrapped up set 2 by rotation 8 with a 25-11 set and match win guaranteeing the Summit Hilltoppers a semi-final berth in the Union County Tournament victory for only the 3rd time in their history.