July 22, 2021 – By NJP
Morris Catholic had an outstanding season this Spring powering to a 13-4 record and also capturing a Non-Public North B Sectional title. Eleven of 17 varsity players have moved on to graduation but don’t count out the Crusaders thus yet for the Fall high school season. Some powerful names are on the exit list including college volleyball bound outside hitter Ella Kretten who committed to D3 Skidmore, Alicia Pokrzywa who missed most of the Spring due to injury and committed to D1 Providence, and Hannah McTigue who committed to D3 Ramapo.
There are six returning varsity players, three rising juniors and three rising seniors. One of the rising juniors is Sofia Mattingly. Sofia had an outstanding sophomore campaign slamming 110 kills, 76 digs, and 34 service aces. She was one of the impact underclassman that drove the Crusaders success in the Spring. And also joining the Crusaders via transfer is Fiona North from Mother Seton who helped lead the Setters to a sectional championship as well.
Sofia is expected to be the teams leader offensively along with transfer North setting up a dynamic pair on the attack. Sofia played for the VB-Rags 16-1 National team along with Fiona North and Liahnna Orange from Mother Seton.
Mattingly is a smooth operator offensively. Her close to 6′ frame and big right-hand swing provide an intimidating presence at the net. She notched a few blocks during the short season and her back row play was top notch as well.
For comparison purposes, NJP considered Sofia’s teammate Ella Kretten as one of the very best in Morris County. Ella posted 134 kills to Sofia’s 110, Ella lifted 82 digs compared to 76 of Sofia, and Sofia out-hammered Ella on the service line with 34 vs. 11 aces. One could draw the conclusion that both players are certainly major factors in the team’s sectional title. There is no doubt that Sofia will be a strong go-to player and leader for the Crusaders.
Here is our interview with Ms. Mattingly…
Hey Sofia? Thanks for joining the NJP player interview club. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am about to be a junior at Morris Catholic High School in Denville. I live in Bloomfield with my parents and younger brother.
How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?
I have been playing since 5th grade. I originally joined because it’s what everybody did once they reached 5th grade, so it just made sense. But, when I was in 6th grade, we got a transfer student who could do the skills our 8th grade team was doing. Wanting to be like her is what made me really care about the sport.
What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What is your favorite position to play?
I am 5’11 and my standing reach is 7’6. I am an outside hitter for my high school team. I play at the club VBRags in Randolph and have been a right-side hitter there for the past three years. I enjoy playing outside the most.
Tell us about your Crusader teammates. Who do you expect to be this year’s standout players in the Fall?
We lost 11 seniors last year and each one of them could hold their own on the court, so as you can imagine there are a lot of changes being made this year. Luckily, we have a lot of returning passers from last year like Isabella Andaloro, Emma Duphiney, and Alex Eckerson, who are definitely going to be standouts when it comes to the back row. Jessica Brown, our setter, will also play a huge role. And Fiona North, a junior transfer this year, is going to be a big addition to our team.
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 have huge hopes to play in college. Though my list still needs to be narrowed down, some schools I am really interested in so far are Maryville University, The University of Findlay, and Arcadia University. I would love to study exercise science or a pre-physical therapy program so that I can become an athletic trainer.
Morris Catholic has lost 11 senior varsity players to graduation including standout players Ella Kretten, Lauren Carlucci, Riley O’Hagan and Alicia Pokrzywa. What do expect from the Fall 2021 roster?
This year is going to be full of adjustments. Adjusting to new positions, new people, new teams. But I think that if everyone works hard at practice, we have the talent to have another successful season like last year.
Tell us about your state non-public sectional group championship run…
Winning that game against MKA was one of those moments that you wish you could go back and relive. Every time we advanced through playoffs, it felt like such a huge victory, especially because the season was made so difficult by COVID. I think we can all say that we were happy with our performance in the final game and were overall really proud of the team. Not every game was easy, but it was all worth it in the end.
Tell us about your experience at VBRags…
I joined VBRags my 8th grade year. I was a little behind my teammates and was also juggling basketball at the same time, so I was not putting in the same time commitment to one sport like the rest of the team. But over time, playing club made me realize that volleyball is the one sport I wanted to stick with. VBRags has helped me develop all the technical aspects of the game and I can’t wait for next season and to see how I have improved by this time next year.
Is there a coach or athlete that you look up to as a role model and why?
All of my coaches over time have been a huge part of getting me to become a better athlete, especially my high school coach, Corey Meyer, who works continuously to get everyone to their fullest potential. An athlete I look up to is Riley O’Hagan. She just graduated last year. Riley is a phenomenal player but even more than that, she is an incredible leader. Riley leads by example and is a picture of the type of senior I hope to be. We could not have had the season we had without her.
What qualities make a teammate a good team captain?
A teammate is a good captain when they can be trusted. Not only trusted on the court to help win a game but also trusted to handle situations when they arise with your team. A good captain communicates with, listens to, and respects their coaches and fellow teammates.
What is your favorite place to compete?
My favorite place to compete is at the Capitol Hill Classic in Washington, DC. The convention center is huge and overwhelming but being there is so exciting and something I look forward to every year.
How does athletics make you a better student or worker?
I think that being involved in athletics helps you with time management and priorities. I think that without volleyball I would still be waiting until the last minute to do schoolwork or not focusing on the things in my life that are really important and wasting time on unproductive things.