May 22, 2021 – By NJP
Typically in Hudson County, there are deep traditions and vintage rivalries that drive the entire season. This year was no different. Harrison and St. Peter’s Prep have been dominating as of late and Bayonne and Kearny are always close. This year, Harrison moved out of the HCIAL and is now a part of the NJIC. And Kearny has had a dominating year, entering the day at #10 in the state and with a 16-1 record. Bayonne really came together in the second half of the season and earned a second seed in the tournament. And the current HCIAL Champs St. Peter’s Prep, who packed their early schedule with top 20 teams is beginning to peak and playing their best volleyball of the season.
Today’s match-up featured #1 Kearny and #3 St. Peter’s who knocked off Bayonne in straight sets in the semi-final. The game was held at Hudson Catholic and allowed guests from both sides and was also livestreamed here for those who may want to catch some of the match… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy4FQ_KChlw For those die hard high school volleyball fans in New Jersey, it’s worth a watch.
In today’s championship match, the Marauders came out of the gate on fire. They hit well, they passed well, and they blocked well. It was a dominating performance and a 25-16 first set win. Ryan Karbowniczak played the best set of his career putting away kills and blocks in chunks. Prep maintained a super high energy level through the set and it looked like it was going to be a very quick match. Aidan Apito finished the first set with an ace.
Kearny was back on their heels at the starts of set 2 and trailed 8-4 and 10-7 before putting together a series of points to take a 17-13 lead and built it to 22-14 before closing out the match at 25-15. Santiago Lopez stepped up in set 2 and took control for the Kardinals like he has all season long. With the sets at 1-1, Kearny clearly had the momentum.
The third set started as a back and forth gem. The score was tied at 4 and then again at 9. Kearny moved ahead 13-10 and after a time out by the Marauders, Aidan Apito smashed two kills to switch the momentum and a Ryan Karbowniczak block evened the score at 13. A Joe Parise ace put Prep up by a point and they never looked back. Pius Mwemba had back to back blocks to give Prep a 24-14 lead and a repeat Championship seemed imminent. Santi Lopez had another big kill to give him 17 for the match but Aidan Apito closed it out with a final slam to end the day.
Apito ended with 13 kills and was near perfect on his passes with 11 digs. Tim Jimenez had 30 assists and Ryan Karbowniczak and Pius Mwemba had 4 blocks each. Ryan had 7 kills and Pius had 6 as the Marauders set middle often in system and relied on their pins during scrappy back and forth play. Great performances by Joe Parise, Jake Landsbergis and Matt Cornell as well as junior lib Andrew Fernandez.
The State North 2 Sectional is looming with Kearny at the #1 seed and SPP at #7. Meaning they would both need to make the Sectional final to play each other once again. Payne Tech, NES, Ridge, SPF, Bayonne, and Union will have something to say about that. North 2 playoffs start up next week so stay tuned.