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High School Volleyball:
Lady Cougars Draw First Blood in Olympic Volleyball

Monday, October 16, 2000

By John Daglian
SJSports Special Correspondent

The Cherry Hill East Lady Cougars traveled to Voorhees yesterday to take on the Eastern Lady Vikings in an Olympic Conference Volleyball match. Both teams entered the contest undefeated in league play. Thus, this one would give the winner an edge in the race for the 2000 league crown. These perennial Olympic power houses were no strangers as they had met in tournament play at the Viking Invitational on September 18th. That encounter was won by Eastern, however, those matches are not reflected in either team's record due to the tournament format. On this afternoon, the Lady Cougars would not be denied as they clawed their way to a 15 - 11, 15 - 7 two set victory. The Cougars were led by Neesha Shah and Jhana Zarghami who combined for over 20 kills and 7 blocks.

The match was actually closer than the score would indicate as both games took over 30 minutes to complete. The contest came down to a battle of spectacular off court defense versus dominant net play. Eastern jumped out to a 4 - 1 lead in game 1 behind some brilliant off court saves by Lindsay Cohen and kills from Natalie DiFeliciantonio. Cherry Hill struck back behind the front court play of Neesha and Jhana. They grabbed a 9 - 6 lead which they would never lose. Eastern continued to chip away with amazing defense and cut shots, but 13 - 11 would be as close as they would come.

With Eastern serving at 9 - 11 Jhana used a behind the back dig to save a sharply cut ball and later sided out with a spectacular 10 foot line kill. This play was perhaps a two point swing as she then stuff blocked for 12 - 9 and Cathy Girman got one of her match high 8 blocks for 13 - 9. Eastern's Kristen Bertucci and Lauren Levy saved a couple of game points, but Jhana finished the game with a cross court kill.

While the Cherry Hill setters, Thea Dorado and Inna Fabrikant, were able to concentrate on their big guns, the Eastern setters, Alison Lorenzo and Shannon Jones, tried to spread the ball around as 7 different players got kills.

It appeared Eastern was ready to play a third game as they jumped out to a 4 - 0 lead in game 2. However, the lady Cougars said no thanks and stormed back with 6 unanswered points. Eastern was able to tie the game at 6, but then the Cougars went on a roll behind Neesha's hitting and Cathy's blocking. They outscored the Vikings 9 - 1 to win the game 15 - 7 and claim the early lead in the Olympic conference.

In the end, the dominant net play by Cherry Hill East was the clear difference. Their relentless attack forced Eastern to chase down second balls and prevented Eastern from executing their offense. While Eastern was successful in prolonging many volleys with incredible off court saves, they remained on the defensive for the majority of the match.

The rematch is scheduled for November 1st at Cherry Hill East. This should be another excellent volleyball match. These teams will also be participating in the first Frank McAleer Memorial tournament at Eastern High School on Saturday November 4th. If you like great Volleyball, come check them both out.

Match Leader's
Cherry Hill East - Neesha Shah - 13 Eastern - Noelle Bolletino - 6
Cherry Hill East - Cathy Girman - 8 Eastern - Lauren Levy - 3

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