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High School Volleyball:
Viking Invitational Has Strange Ending
No Power Equals No Winner

Saturday, September 15, 2001

By John Daglian
SJSports Staff Writer

The 7th annual Viking Invitational Girl's Volleyball tournament was held at Eastern High School on Saturday September 15th. This tournament normally features several of the top Group 4 schools in the state. However, in light of the recent events three teams were unable to attend. In order to maintain two 5 team pools, Eastern entered three teams and Cherry Hill East entered two teams.

The first pool consisted of Eastern, Fairlawn, Columbia, Cherry Hill East B and Cherry Hill West. The second pool contained Cherry Hill East A, Eastern B, Eastern C, Wayne Hills and West Windsor South.

Pool play lasted from 8:30 AM to around 2:30 PM. During pool play Eastern and Fairlawn put on the most exciting match containing huge hits, great defense and tough blocking. As play continued it was clear that four teams were standing above the rest, Cherry Hill East, Eastern, Fairlawn and Columbia. When the dust settled, Eastern had captured their pool with a 7 - 1 record. Fairlawn was second at 6 - 2 and Columbia 3rd at 5 - 3. The other pool saw Cherry Hill East breeze to an 8 - 0 mark with Wayne Hills coming in second and Eastern's B team taking 3rd place.

The quarterfinals pitted the 2nd place team of each pool against the other pools 3rd place team. This would be a single game to 15 points with a 30 minute time limit. The first quarterfinal saw Fairlawn easily advance over Eastern B. However, the 2nd quarterfinal needed almost the entire 30 minutes before Columbia took control and edged Wayne Hills.

The semi-finals featured Eastern against Columbia and Cherry Hill East against Fairlawn. These matches would be a single 21 point game. In the first semi, Eastern took control early and maintained a steady attack winning easily 21 - 9. The second semi saw Cherry Hill jump out to a quick 10 - 3 lead, but then Fairlawn came roaring back to tie the score at 10. However, just when you thought the momentum was switching Cherry Hill took control again breezing to a 21 - 11 victory.

The final would be a regular best of three match. This was the final everyone hoped for as the two local rivals were going head to head. The match got started around 4:45 which was significant since the tournament needed to end by 6:00 PM. The first game was controlled by Cherry Hill. They managed to dig most of Eastern's attacks and force several errors. However, Eastern kept pressing the attack and kept the game within reach until Cherry Hill pulled away winning 15 - 9. Cherry Hill demonstrated the ability to excel at all aspects of the game en-route to their victory. Game 2 began around 5:15 and Eastern looked liked a completely new team. They served tough, attacked with more vigor and immediately took control. They jumped out to a 6 - 3 lead when the power to the building flickered off and back on. Unfortunately, several of the lights in the gym did not return to full power. After a short stoppage, both teams decided to try and play under the darkened conditions. Eastern's next serve was an ace for a 7 - 3 lead. However, it was clear that the Cherry Hill players did not pick up this serve until well after it was struck. Thus, play was halted again. It was determined that the only way to ensure all the lights would return and stay on was to turn them off for at least 30 minutes. This delay was not acceptable due to the time restriction on the gym usage. Therefore, the match was postponed. If it were to continue, it would resume where it left off: Cherry Hill East up 1 game to none with Eastern serving in game 2 and leading 7 - 3. In any event, their regular season meetings promise to have even more intensity.

While there was no official winner, the tournament showed that four of these teams will make some noise during the season and perhaps contend for the group 4 state title.

©2001 South Jersey Sports Online