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High School Volleyball:
Fifth Annual Junior Varsity Volleyball Tournament Held at Cherry Hill East

Saturday, October 27, 2001

By John Daglian
SJSports Staff Writer

Cherry Hill East High School hosted their fifth annual Junior Varsity Volleyball tournament on Saturday October 27th. Sixteen teams from 11 schools would participate in this year's event. As the girl's season concludes this week, this type of tournament gives the younger players a tremendous opportunity to gain valuable experience. The format divided the teams into three pools. Two pools had five teams and one pool had six teams. Each team would play the other teams in their pool twice. The teams with the best records in each pool would advance to the semi-finals. Additionally, the team with the best second place record would be given the final semi-final spot.

The Red pool consisted of Cherry Hill East A, Sterling, Winslow, Cherry Hill West and Washington Township B. The White pool was composed of Eastern B, Washington Township A, West Windsor North, Williamstown A, Southern Regional A and Cherry Hill East B. The Blue pool included Moorestown, West Windsor South, Eastern A, Southern Regional B and Williamstown B. As you can see schools from all over the region participated in the tournament. Once again a first year Volleyball program, Winslow, was participating in the tournament.

During pool play each match consisted of two 11-point games with a 25-minute time limit. This is necessary to ensure the tournament runs smoothly and players aren't playing from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

The Blue pool, located in the bottom gym, would be the first one to finish play. The highlight match was the last one as Eastern A and West Windsor South would take 6 - 0 pool records into the match. Dana Lachenmayer led West Windsor in the front court by providing several key kills and blocks. Jenn Froelich led Eastern demonstrating the ability to kill from the back row as well as the front row. In this match West Windsor would prevail 15 - 8 in the first game. However, Eastern bounced back to take game 2, 15 - 11. Thus, both teams finished pool play at 7 - 1. The tiebreaker would give the automatic semifinal berth to West Windsor, while Eastern would have to hope for the best second place record. The rest of the pool saw Williamstown B finish at 4 - 4, and both Southern B and Moorestown finish at 1 - 7.

Cherry Hill East A dominated the red pool. They compiled an 8 - 0 mark winning their games easily. Cherry Hill West took second place with a 6 - 2 mark, but was eliminated due to Eastern's 7 - 1 record. Washington Twp B finished 2 - 6 and first year team Winslow was impressive with a 2 - 6 finish. Sterling finished the day at 1 - 7. Cherry Hill East was able to dominate with tough serving and tremendous net play.

The White pool, with 6 teams, was by far the most competitive and would finish last. Since each team in this pool would play 2 extra games, it was determined that their final match would not be included in the race for the best second place record. However, all matches would count to determine the pool winner. During pool play nearly every match was ended on the 25-minute time limit. Only 3 of the matches actually completed prior to the time expiring. The third match of the day provided much of the story as one volley lasted for nearly 2 minutes. Williamstown A's Melisa McCann and Southern Regional A's Katie Brown played a game of pepper. Everytime Katie would crush the ball, Melisa was there to dig it. The team's ended up splitting their match on time in two very close games. Meanwhile, Washingtown Twp A was showing sheer determination by coming from behind in almost every game to bring a 7 - 1 record into their final match. Their only loss was to Eastern B. Williamstown A entered their next to last match against Eastern B at 5 - 1. Thus, Eastern B could play the role of spoiler for their A team. If they could win one of these games, they would ensure Eastern A a berth in the semi-finals. Williamstown would have to sweep both games for a shot at the semis. Eastern B did not disappoint as they split with Williamstown. This meant that the final match, Washington Twp vs. Williamstown, would determine the pool winner and the last semi-final berth. Washington Twp would need only a split in the match to win the pool. They came out strong taking a quick 11 - 7 lead, but Williamstown's defense kept them in the match and got them a game point at 14 - 12. Township came back once again to tie the score at 14, but Williamstown was able to take game one 15 - 14. With time running out, Township needed to win the 2nd game to advance. Trailing 6 - 7, #13 went back to serve for Township and produced 3 consecutive service winners for a 9 - 7 lead. Two quick side outs and another service winner from #10 gave Township the game and the pool as time expired. Township would finish at 8 - 2, Williamstown and Southern Regional would finish 7 - 3. Eastern B, who played spoiler finished at 4 - 6. Cherry Hill East B finished 3 - 7 and West Windsor North finished the day at 1 - 9.

The semi-finals were now set as Eastern A and West Windsor South would have a rematch while Cherry Hill East A and Washington Twp. A would face each other in the remaining semi-final. The match would be a single game to 21 points with a 25-minute time limit. The teams would switch sides after one team reached 11 points.

Eastern jumped out to an early lead in their match and maintained control throughout. However, West Windsor would not go away as the cut three separate 6 point leads in half before Eastern took a 19 - 11 lead. When West Windsor went back to serve, time was running out. Three consecutive service winners cut the deficit to 5, but a long volley and a side out caused time to expire and Eastern had advanced to the finals.

The second semi looked like a repeat of pool play for Cherry Hill East. They cruised to a 10 - 0 lead and were up 11 - 1 when the teams switched sides. Perhaps the long day of pool play was finally taking its toll on Washington Twp. However, two strategically placed shots later and phoenix had once again come back from the ashes. The lead was cut to 11 - 6. East's front court put a halt on the comeback with more dominant play. They regained the momentum and extended the lead to 17 - 9. That's when the day's big comeback began. Township's #10 provided four service winners and with only 3 minutes remaining East called a time out. However, the momentum was only temporarily halted after East sided out, Township quickly got the ball back and #13 finished the comeback with 5 service winners. The final point came as time expired and Township would be facing Eastern in the finals.

The tournament format provided for a consolation game as well as a championship game. Both of these matches would be regular 2 out of 3 games with no time limit. In the consolation game Cherry Hill East showed they were ready to bounce back as they repeated their pool play dominance with a convincing 15 - 7, 15 - 2 victory over West Windsor South.

The championship between Washington Twp and Eastern looked like a repeat of Township's semi-final. Eastern quickly got off to a 13 - 6 lead, but Township just wouldn't let the game end. They came all they way back to tie the game at 13 before Eastern finally ended the comeback with a 15 - 13 win. The long day finally took its toll on Township, as Eastern was able to win the match convincingly with a 15 - 3 game 2 victory.

Congratulations to Eastern A for capturing the fifth annual Junior Varsity Tournament and also to Washington Twp A who proved that it's not over till it's over with some amazing comebacks through out the day.

Photos by Art Redd

©2001 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.