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High School Volleyball:
Eastern Captures Their First Ever Viking Invitational

Saturday, April 2, 2005

By John Daglian
SJSports Staff Writer

The 10th annual Viking invitational Boys Volleyball tournament was held at Eastern High School on Saturday April 2nd. This tournament normally features several of the top schools in the state. This year was no exception as 7 of the top 15 schools attended.

The first pool consisted of Eastern, East Brunswick, Cherry Hill East, Hackensack and St. Peters Prep. The second pool contained West Windsor South, Bridgewater, Cherry Hill West, Fairlawn and Wayne Hills.

Pool play lasted from 8:30 AM to around 2:00 PM. During pool play Bridgewater and West Windsor South put on the most exciting match containing huge hits, great defense and tough blocking. The first 15-point game of this match lasted for nearly 20 minutes of the 30-minute time limit allotted for two 15-point games. West Windsor took that game 15 – 12, but Bridgewater got the split by taking the 2nd game 15 - 5. The surprise of that pool came when Wayne Hills managed to take a game off of Bridgewater. The final play off spot from the pool came down to the last match as Fairlawn needed to take both games from Cherry Hill West to advance. West Windsor South emerged as the surprise team of the pool taking first with a 7 – 1 record. Bridgewater finished 2nd at 6 – 2 while Fairlawn grabbed 3rd. The other pool started routinely enough as a rebuilding Cherry Hill East squad took the first game of the day from host Eastern. However, that would be the only game Eastern would lose on this day. They easily took game 2 and then later shocked tourney favorite East Brunswick by sweeping them in pool play. Their inspired play got them the top seed out of this pool at 7 – 1. East Brunswick rebounded from the losses to Eastern to finish 6 – 2. Cherry Hill East claimed the final play off spot.

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 East Brunswick advance over Fairlawn while the 2nd quarterfinal had Bridgewater advance over Cherry Hill East.

The semi-finals featured Eastern against Bridgewater and surprising West Windsor South against East Brunswick. These are slated as 25-point games with no time limit. Both matches featured tremendous hitting, blocking and defense. East Brunswick managed to overcome an early deficit to rally past West Windsor South. Meanwhile, Eastern and Bridgewater stayed within 2 points of each other the entire game. In the end, Eastern edged Bridgewater 25 – 23 to advance to the finals for only the 2nd time in the history of their tournament

The final would again be a single game to 25 points. This game showed a team on a mission as Eastern took control early and showed no signs of giving any openings to East Brunswick. The Eastern attack led by Mike Bertucci and Larry Chatman was nearly unstoppable. This combined with the overall defense displayed allowed Eastern to dominate this game from start to finish. Eastern was finally able to celebrate a tournament win on their home court.

This bodes well for Eastern as every tournament winner has at least made the semi-finals of the state tournament.

Photos by Art Redd

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