July 9, 2021 – By NJP
Roxbury is coming off an outstanding season in the shortened Spring session. The Gaels finished at 10-3 overall, losing two games to Sectional champs Sparta and to Tenafly in the Section 1 Group 3 Quarterfinals. Their accomplishments were highlighted by having two sophomore varsity starters who were absolute standouts for the Gaels. One of those second-year athlete’s was setter Lorie Horta.
Horta, who has been playing club volleyball since a very young age, broke out as the team’s setter contributing 262 assists and 81 digs while also slamming 18 aces. The young Gael has a super high volleyball IQ, great instincts at the net, and a soft touch whether setting with her hands or with her bridge. Lorie continues to improve her game and we expect her to continue her growth on a team that is filled with firepower.
The other sophomore standout was Victoria Latino who led Roxbury in kills and stepped into the outside hitter role for the team. We are also bracing for Sammy Olander’s senior campaign which could be devastating to Gael opponents. Combining these two offensive weapons with Mia Capriglione at middle will be a lethal trio.
Coach Anthony McMichael has a world of good things to share about the setter. “Lorie has been a staple in the Roxbury Gym since she was a 6th grader at our youth clinics!” said McMichael. “Lorie is passionate about volleyball, and she has always been one of the hardest working players in our gym.”
Losing a player like captain Quinn Longo to graduation leaves a void in regard to leadership. But McMichael has high hopes for Horta to fill the gap. “Lorie always embraces new challenges with a fierce sense of determination and pride. Not only does she set high standards for herself, but she also inspires those around her to do the same.”
Coach also told us… “Lorie’s intense desire to succeed coupled with her strong sense of team have made her an exceptional role model for all the girls in Roxbury’s volleyball program. We are blessed that she will continue to lead our program as our setter over the next two seasons.”
If Lorie stays on her current track, by her senior year she will be a highly sought-after recruit on both the academic and athletic landscape.
Here is our interview with Ms. Horta…
Greetings Lorie… welcome to the NJP player interview club. Tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! My name is Lorie Horta and I live in Succasunna, NJ. I attend Roxbury High School and I’m graduating in the year 2023 and going to be a junior this season. I joined the varsity team freshman year and have played as a setter and DS (defensive specialist) throughout the years. I live with my mom, my dad, my 11-year-old sister and my dog Peach who are all very supportive and love me unconditionally. I have played club volleyball for almost 6 years.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I have played volleyball since 6th grade, choosing the sport over basketball. I always thought that basketball would be my sport, especially since my dad loved playing basketball when he was younger and taught me everything he knew. After I stopped playing basketball, I tried a lacrosse camp run by the town and a volleyball camp run by Coach McMichael, Coach Grasso, and Coach Balella. Ever since that camp, I have played club volleyball and countless other camps run by Coach McMike and my club.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?
I am about 5’ 4” and have played as a setter, libero, a DS, and an outside only twice throughout my club and high school years. It is hard to pick which position is my favorite because they are all amazing to play in different ways. I love digging balls and diving on the floor for those impossible balls but setting a ball is relaxing and complex since you need to plan out who you are going to set to and why in a matter of seconds. I have moved clubs throughout the years, but I have been playing at Garden State Elite Volleyball Club (GSEVC) and have never been happier. I just finished my season playing on the 16 Premier team with such amazing coaches and players.
Tell us about your Gael teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?
The Roxbury High School Volleyball Team is amazing from the coaches to the players and even to the parents. Everyone is so positive and supportive of one another I could not ask for a better team. We have such great players which gives us a truly diverse team. We did lose 5 seniors; Quinn Longo, Hayley Miller, Jocelyn Defuria, Cassidy Dettlo, and Juliana Medini and we will miss them greatly. There are many spots to fill this season, so I cannot be too sure of who will be a standout player this year. We have amazing players on varsity right now; Mia Capriglione, Victoria Latino, Sammy Olander, Bella Chan, Sierra Rogalsky, Sarah Allen, and Liana Scalfani. We have a very strong (and tall) front row team that I know will get the job done. I can always trust Victoria, Sammy, Mia, and Sarah in the front row because they are all so smart with the ball and have great timing on blocks. Our back row is also just as amazing as our front row with Bella, Sierra, and Liana. All our passers have great control with the ball and are always running around on the court to get that ball. Coach McMichael has helped us become a well-rounded team with his drills and amazing dedication to our team. Coach McMike is always pushing us on and off the court which is what helped us become such a great team. Even during the off season, he supports us at our club tournaments and games. He has helped the team in so many different ways physically and mentally and we are so grateful for it. From his daily practice quotes to team bonding, he is just an amazing coach, and I couldn’t ask for any better leader.
NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in college? If so, which ones are you looking at? What do you plan to study in college or what is your career path?
I would absolutely love to play in college. I am not sure what college I would like to attend but preferably, I would love to go to college in Florida. Currently, I would like to study Criminology in college, but you never know what will happen.
Roxbury returns some outstanding players such as yourself (262 assists, GSE 16 Premier), Victoria Latino (116 kills, Xtreme 17 National), Sammy Olander (61 kills, 11 blocks, GSE 18 Premier), Mia Capriglione (12 blocks, Xtreme 17 National), and Isabela Chan (151 digs, Xtreme 17 National). Will it be the Gaels year to dominate?
I think this will be a great year for our team even though we lost some seniors. With the new players who will join varsity this season, I think it would make the team more whole and have a stronger connection. I think that if we try our hardest in every game we play and keep the energy, we will be amazing.
You and the team had some major accomplishments last season including two wins against Sectional Champ Mendham, a 10-3 overall record, and going three sets with Sectional Champ Sparta. What was the best part of your 2021 Spring season?
The best part of the 2021 Spring Season was definitely our Mendham games. Those games were our best with energy, skills, and as an overall team. Going into these games we were very determined to win, and we were so serious throughout. I believe that both teams were equally matched in both front row and back row. However, Mendham was one of our biggest challenges of the season with the team consisting of Cat Holtz, Poppy Skjonnamend, Annibelle Ernst, and Michele Kifyak. As serious as the matches were, many of us were friends with some of the players on Mendham which made the matches even more fun.
Can you tell us about your club experience on the GSE 16 Premier team?
Playing at GSE in general is just amazing! I have learned and improved so much there with all the coaches. My coaches for my 16 Premier team were Coach Khaled and Coach Amy. Both of my coaches are incredible and have taught me so much in the three years I have been there. Coach Khaled has been coaching me since I’ve been there, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Although his workouts are challenging and I am almost “dead” at the end, they have really helped me as a player. Coach Khaled has not only improved me as a player physically but also mentally. He has taught me what it truly means to be a volleyball player and why we do things the way we do. As serious as he can be on the court, he makes the games and practices so much fun. Coach Khaled pushes us physically, mentally, and emotionally to become our best selves as a person and player.
Coach Amy has also helped me so much. Coach Amy is just a big ball of positive energy and always encourages us to try new things. Her positivity on and off the court keeps the team in high-spirits and high energy throughout practices and games. During practices, she gives us tough drills and is always encouraging us to push it to our limits. Both coaches are so encouraging, and I am so thankful to have them as my coaches. GSE is just one big family where everyone knows everyone which just makes the environment much more positive and welcoming. I couldn’t ask for a better club and family.
What is the best part of playing setter?
The best part of being a setter is that you get to not only run your side of the court, but also the other side. I believe that the setter is a key player on the court and is one of the toughest positions. Being a setter is not to just set the ball to a hitter but to remove the blocks on the opponent’s side to give your hitter a chance at a kill. The setter position is much more complex than people believe which just makes the position more fun to play. As much as I love playing libero, the setter touches every ball in each rally, and I think it’s just amazing how quick they have to be in decision making.
What is your favorite volleyball story?
My favorite volleyball story was when my team at the time, GSE 15 Premier, went to Connecticut for Winterfest. It was a two-day tournament, and we were undefeated in our section/bracket. We played some really tough teams both days and we were working so hard both days. We qualified for the 15 Gold Bracket on our second day and we were playing till almost 9 o’clock at night. My team was exhausted and so were the other teams and from Quarter Finals to Finals, we went to third sets. When we got to Finals, we were all worn out, but we found out that the team we were meant to play in Finals was the team we almost lost to on the first day. It was a very even match and either team could have won. We were all riled up and we were very determined to win the match not just for first place, but to beat the team once more. As tired as we were, we played our hardest and smartest from beginning to end. I can say that at the end of the third set, both teams were so tired from all the long rallies and the three sets we had to endure. After an excruciating almost hour and a half game, my team came out on top and won First Place in the Gold bracket.
Who inspired you as a young player?
When I was younger, I did dance for about 5 years and went on to play different sports like basketball, cross country, lacrosse, and volleyball. Throughout those years my family has been nothing but supportive of me. However, my biggest supporter has always been my dad. He taught me everything he knows in each sport I have played and every time I wanted to switch sports he was highly supportive. At volleyball games and tournaments, he is always taking videos of me to show to his friends and I always hear him during the games. After games and tournaments, he always tells me how well I did, but also tells me what I can improve on with constructive criticism. My dad played volleyball in high school, so even though he can’t see things or teach me things like a coach would, he still gives his perspective and I love him for that. My dad doesn’t usually work in the winter unless it snows because of his landscaping business so he always attends my tournaments. However, because of COVID and how it shifted many sports seasons, he wasn’t able to make it to many tournaments this year. My mom was constantly taking videos and Facetiming my dad during work to watch the games. Even though he couldn’t be there, he would call me after the games were over to talk to me about what he saw, and I would tell him stories about things he didn’t get to see. I know my dad is my number one supporter, but he also inspires me every day to push myself to my fullest.