February 13, 2021 – By NJP

One of the most dominant NJ girls high school teams during the 2019-2020 season was Donovan Catholic at the Jersey shore. The put up a 29-5 record and were edged by Immaculate Heart in the non-public semi-final. They had a super solid team filled with stars and this year will be no different.

But there is a new girl at school this year. A freshman that brings a world of talent to the volleyball floor. Shantel Starling is the first year talent that will be trying to pierce a very special roster filled with star Lady Griffins.

Shantel is one of the top U15’s in the state. She has been participating in the USA volleyball high performance program and tournaments and will set the Griffins up for 4 years of success. But could she be that new addition that propels DC to the Tournament of Champions? This year could provide that perfect storm.

Shantel has had volleyball in her life from an early age. Her sister is currently playing at the collegiate level for Rutgers-Newark. Her Dad was a professional basketball player in Argentina and her Mom has been playing volleyball her entire life. So no wonder Shantel has excelled at the sport that she has been playing since age eight.

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Many of our articles focus on top high school players, many of which are juniors and seniors with well established impact on their teams. They are in the top 10% of talent and have potential to take their games to another level and continue playing at college. The unusual profile of an incoming freshman who has not played a game at the HS level is provoked by the talent level that Shantel brings to the game.

Here is our interview with Ms. Starling…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Shantel?

Hi, I’m Shantel and I go to Donovan Catholic. I currently live in Forked River. I graduate in 2024.  I’m very passionate about volleyball.  My dad was a professional basketball player in Argentina, he grew up in New York, and traveled all around the country to play basketball. My mom is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She played indoor volleyball and right now she is still playing both indoor and beach volleyball. She is one of my biggest supporters considering she has never missed a single one of my games.  My sister is a junior at Rutgers Newark and plays outside and opposite for their volleyball team. She has always been a big help in my volleyball career, she is always there to give me advice when I need it. 

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I have been playing volleyball for a long time but started playing on a club team when I was 8 years old. Both my mom and sister inspired me to take up the sport. I grew up watching them both play and I fell in love with the sport.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?

I am 5’10, I play outside, and I play for OCVBC. My favorite position to play is outside, personally I think the position outside allows me to be very versatile and use all my attributes so that I can block and hit more frequently as well as serve receive and defend.

Image result for donovan catholic griffins

Tell us about your Griffin teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?

This is my first year playing for Donovan but I had already known some of the girls prior to going there. I think this year’s standout player will be Laine Kulpinski because I know Karin Ojeda will be leaving this year so I know she will have to step up to the plate and I know she will. I’m also looking forward to getting closer to some of the other girls who I haven’t gotten to formally introduce myself to. Overall I’m very excited to play with the girls and I can’t wait to become part of the Griffin family.

Tell us about your experience at GEVA high performance.

My GEVA high performance experience was very exciting to say the least. I got to play with a ton of other girls who were really talented and nice. The coaches were very nice and supportive of each and every player. I think it made me a more confident and aggressive player so I’m glad to have experienced it and I’d definitely do it again.

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Who inspires you?

My dad really inspires me. His entire life he has worked extremely hard to achieve all he has wanted.He has been one of my biggest supporters ever since I was a little girl. He’s constantly pushing me not only to be a better athlete but a better person as well. He shows me through hard work and discipline that I can achieve anything I set my mind on. 

You are a freshman on one of the best high school teams in New Jersey. How do you expect to make your mark in your first season?

I expect to make my mark by showing my passion for the sport by working really hard during both practices and games. I also hope to be a leader for some of the players at Donovan. I also just want to not only play to my best ability but to also show what a good teammate I am as well as show good sportsmanship. 

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Tell us about your OCVBC club experience…

So first I began playing at age 8 and got my first overhand serve over. Then I played with CJ at age 10 and he helped me with the fundamentals of the game and then finally I finally gained confidence in my teammates and myself and I have started to put more balls down but I have also learned to play more smart. I still have a long way to go but I’ve come/ such a long way. And I couldn’t have done it without the club.

What do you hope to accomplish during your high school career?

During my high school career I hope to have a season where I go undefeated at least one year. I also hope to break a few records.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Image result for i like criticism it makes me strong

What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?

I plan to study biology. I hope to become a surgeon but that could possibly change but I’ve wanted this for a while now so it’s unlikely.

What are your favorite volleyball videos that you watch?

I normally enjoy watching some clips on Instagram of girls college players. Stanford and UCLA are some of my favorites.

CJ Herdt

Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way that you would like to recognize here?

A coach that really helped me along the way was CJ Herdt. He coached me for three years  since I was 10. I definitely would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for everything that he’s taught me. Not only as a player but also as a person.

What are your other hobbies or interests?

Some of my other hobbies and interests include swimming and playing video games. I used to swim competitively at the YMCA when I was really young but then ended up stopping at age 9 because I wanted to completely pursue volleyball.

What else would you like us to know about you?

Something else I would like you to know about me is that I enjoy traveling a lot. We normally try and travel to Argentina every year to enjoy the culture but to also visit family and friends. It has been hard not being able to see my family due to the pandemic but I’m just glad that they are all doing well because that is my main concern.

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