|High School Volleyball:
Lady Vikings Capture 8th Viking Invitational
Saturday, September 14, 2002
By John Daglian
SJSports Staff Writer
The 8th annual Viking invitational Girls Volleyball tournament was held at Eastern High School. This tournament normally features several of the top Group 4 schools in the state. This year the participating schools were Eastern, Cherry Hill East, Cherry Hill West, Memorial, Columbia, Fairlawn, Wayne Hills, Hackensack, West Windsor South and Clifton.
The two pools were divided as follows: Pool #1 consisted of Eastern, Fairlawn, Clifton, Hackensack and West Windsor South. Pool #2 contained Cherry Hill East, Columbia, Cherry Hill West, Wayne Hills and Memorial.
This year the tournament format was changed to all rally scoring. Pool play would consist of two 15-point rally games with an 18-point cap. Pool play lasted from 8:30 AM to around 2:00 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 went unbeaten to capture their pool with an 8 - 0 record. Fairlawn's only losses came to Eastern and finished 2nd at 6 - 2. Despite a huge effort from West Windsor South Clifton took the third spot with a 3 - 5 record. West Windsor South and Hackensack rounded out the pool at 2 - 6 and 1 - 7 respectively. In the other gym Cherry Hill East dominated their pool finishing with a 7 - 1 mark. Their only loss came in the last game to Memorial after all was decided. Columbia took 2nd with a 6 - 2 record losing only to Cherry Hill East. Memorial captured the last playoff spot at 5 - 3. Wayne Hills and Cherry Hill West split their final match to each finish at 1 - 7.
The quarterfinals pitted the 2nd place team of each pool against the other pools 3rd place team. This would be a single rally game to 15 points. The first quarterfinal saw Columbia get an early lead and never look back in defeating Clifton 15 - 10. In the second quarterfinal Fairlawn jumped up early on Memorial, but struggled to finish them off. Fairlawn extended their lead to 14 - 7 and were serving for the match when things got interesting. A side out and several service winners later and Memorial had closed the lead to 14 - 13. However, a clutch dig and down the line kill gave Fairlawn the win 15 - 13.
The semi-finals featured Eastern against Columbia and Cherry Hill East against Fairlawn. These were actually a rematch of the previous years semi-finals. These were set up as a single 25-point rally game. In the first semi, Eastern took control early and maintained a steady attack winning easily 25 - 19. The second semi was a see saw with neither team able to gain more than a two point margin. The first lead of more than two points went to Fairlawn at 19 -16, but again they could not hold it. Cherry Hill East rebounded behind tough blocking and serving to tie the game at 20 - 20. The tough blocking then forced three hitting errors to give East a 24 - 21 lead. They served out the match to gain a repeat of last year's final.
The final again was slated as 25-point rally game. This was the final everyone hoped for as the two local rivals were going head to head. Cherry Hill struck first blood, but Eastern cam back quickly to grab an 8 - 4 lead. They would never look back. Eastern maintained that minimum 4 point lead throughout the match with a balanced attack and tough serving. Eastern went on to capture their own tournament at 25 - 19.
Once again this tournament showed provided quality play and gave an indication of what is to come as the 2002 season continues.