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High School Volleyball:
West Windsor South Captures 9th Viking Tournament

Saturday, September 13, 2003

By John Daglian
SJSports Staff Writer

The 9th annual Viking invitational Girls Volleyball tournament was held at Eastern High School on Saturday September 13th. 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, Wayne Hills, Memorial, Hackensack and West Windsor South. Pool #2 contained Cherry Hill East, Columbia, Cherry Hill West, Fairlawn and Clifton.

The new high school rules were in full effect including rally scoring, first ball defense and net serves. Pool play would consist of two 15-point rally games with an 18-point cap. Pool play lasted from 8:30 AM to around 2:30 PM. During pool play Clifton and Fairlawn put on the most exciting match containing huge hits, great defense and tough blocking. The teams split with scores of 16 – 14 and 18 – 16. In that same pool, Cherry Hill East provided serious competition to both Clifton and Fairlawn. Cherry Hill finished pool play at 6 – 2 earning a 2nd place finish. Clifton took the top spot with an identical record, but edged out Cherry Hill by 2 points on the tie breaker. Fairlawn finished 3rd at 5 – 3 while Columbia was 2 – 6 and Cherry Hill West was 1 – 7. These teams were in every match, but couldn’t find a way to get those crucial last couple of points.

The drama was occurring in the other pool as West Windsor South showed early they came to play. In years past, their opening match against Eastern usually put them in a 0 – 2 hole at the start of pool play. However, they came out firing and captured both games from the host school. They never looked back as they coasted to 1st place in the pool with a 7 – 1 mark. Meanwhile Eastern, Memorial and Hackensack were left scrambling for the two remaining spots. When the dust settled all 3 teams were left with 4 – 4 records. The first tie-breaker of head to head revealed that all teams had split with each other. Thus, the second tie-breaker of point differential against each other was needed. Eastern took 2nd place with a +4 point differential and then Memorial edged out Hackensack with a +1 point differential in their match. Wayne Hills would finish pool play 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 Cherry Hill East get an early lead and never look back in defeating Memorial 15 – 10. In the second quarterfinal Fairlawn and Eastern played a marathon with neither team able to get more than a two point lead. In the end, Fairlawn ousted the defending champs 21 – 19 in a thrilling match.

The semi-finals featured Fairlawn against Clifton and Cherry Hill East against West Windsor South. These were set up as a single 25-point rally game. In the first semi, Clifton took over early as the effects of Fairlawn’s quarterfinal match led to some unforced errors. However, they dug deep and closed a ten point deficit (5 – 15) to 4 at (15 – 19), but ran out of gas and Clifton finished the game at 21 – 16. The second semifinal was yet another marathon. West Windsor refused to quit in this match. They erased a 10 – 4 deficit to tie the game at 15. The teams traded points the rest of the way with West Windsor facing and holding off two match points. Trailing 24 – 25 their senior middle hitter served out the match with well placed serves and timely hitting by their senior outside. West Windsor had knocked out last year’s other finalist 27 – 25 and would face Clifton for the championship.

The final again was slated as 25-point rally game. Once again West Windsor refused to quit. They got off to a slow start trailing 7 – 12 early, but fought back to tie the game at 12. The teams traded points with each taking single point leads until West Windsor earned two match points at 24 – 22. They converted the second one to capture their first ever tournament 25 – 23.

Once again this tournament provided quality play and gave an indication of what is to come as the 2003 season continues.

Photos by Art Redd

©2003 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.