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High School Volleyball:
Cherry Hill East Captures 10th Viking Tournament

Saturday, September 11, 2004

By John Daglian
SJSports Staff Writer

The 10th annual Viking invitational Girls Volleyball tournament was held at Eastern High School on Saturday September 11th. 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, East Brunswick, 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, East Brunswick, Cherry Hill West, Fairlawn and Clifton.

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 several matches went the distance finishing 18 - 16. However, the best was saved for last on both courts.

The final scheduled match in Pool #1 featured defending champion West Windsor South against upstart Wayne Hills. Wayne Hills needed to win only one of the two games to advance while West Windsor needed them both. West Windsor came out on all cylinders, dominating game 1 early and coasting to the win. However, Wayne Hills was able to regroup and built a 10 - 2 lead in the pivotal 2nd game to ensure they would move out of pool play. Meanwhile, Hackensack was in complete control of the pool, coasting to a 1st place 7 - 1 mark. Their only blemish came early in the day against Eastern. The host school finished second in the pool at 5 - 3. Wayne Hills finished at 4 - 4 for third place. West Windsor was 3 - 5 and Memorial finished 1 - 7 to complete the pool.

Pool #2 was the Cherry Hill East show. They dominated play from start to finish. Despite an injury to their outside hitter, East cruised through pool play undefeated at 8 - 0. The highlight came when they faced Clifton who was also 6 - 0 at the time. Cherry Hill East took charge early and never looked back insuring the top seed in the pool with two 15 - 6 victories. Clifton earned 2nd at 6 - 2. However, once again the final match of the day would be needed to determine the 3rd place finisher. This time Fairlawn needed to win both games against Cherry Hill West to force a play off game against East Brunswick. Cherry Hill West gave Fairlawn all it could handle in game one before falling 16 - 14. West was determined to play the spoiler role and eliminated Fairlawn with a convincing victory in game two. Thus East Brunswick finished 3rd at 3 - 5, Fairlawn 4th at 2 - 6 and Cherry Hill West at 1 - 7 was 5th.

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 Clifton get an early lead and never look back in defeating Wayne Hills 15 - 7. In the second quarterfinal East Brunswick and Eastern played a marathon with neither team able to get more than a two-point lead. In the end, the host school outlasted East Brunswick winning 15 - 13.

The semi-finals featured Cherry Hill East against Eastern and Clifton against Hackensack. These were set up as a single 25-point rally game. In the first semi, Hackensack quickly jumped on Clifton 14 - 2. However, Clifton refused to quit and nearly pulled off the impossible. They erased the 12 point deficit to tie the game at 20 before finally falling 25 - 23. The second semifinal was yet another marathon. The two local teams put on a show with several spirited runs. Eastern would jump up by three and then East would jump up by 3 points. This happened four times during the match. In the end, Cherry Hill’s superior play at the net proved to be the difference holding on to win 25 - 21.

The final again was slated as 25-point rally game. This time it was Hackensack who feel behind early and refused to quit. Trailing 17 - 2 they mounted a rally to close within 5 points, but the deficit was too large. Cherry Hill East held them off and completed the perfect day with a 25 - 18 victory. The overall balance of East proved to be unstoppable. At times during the day, they beat teams with defense, serving and net play.

Once again this tournament provided quality play and gave an indication of what is to come as the 2004 season continues.

Photos by Art Redd

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