November 6, 2021 – By NJP


River Dell and Old Tappan matchup in the North 1 Group 2 final.

River Dell has been lurking in the NJP top 10 all season, waiting for the top teams to falter. They slipped into the NJP top 5 just a few weeks ago and now they took down #2 Demarest in the state tournament. They have only lost three games all season and have built a record of 20-3. Those three games lost were to #1 IHA and 2 to #2 Demarest. They have many solid signature wins including Old Tappan, Ramsey, Pascack Hills, Northern Highlands, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Pascack Valley, Jefferson and now Demarest. River Dell defeated Old Tappan in the second match of the season which seems like an eternity ago. It was a close match, but a clear-cut win.

Emma Evancho from River Dell

River Dell Players to Watch:

Alicia Idiculla is just a junior, but she is one of the best outsides in North Jersey and is putting up impressive stats against some of the best teams in the state. The 6-2 setup has been a knock-out punch for Golden Hawk opponents with senior Davan McHale and junior Emma Evancho both being in the top 3% of players in NJ. That is not common for 6-2 setter to be near the top of these player rankings but both players are all around contributors for River Dell. Emma is third on the team in digs and leads the team in aces. Davan has notched 77 kills and 10 blocks while setting as well. Kayla DePol and Erin McCabe have been impressive up front and the Golden Hawks have 8 players in the top 28% of all players in NJ and 3 in the top 3%. They are deep and play together like a well-oiled machine.

Old Tappan started the season slowly losing to Clifton on opening day and then falling to River Dell. They lost to Pascack Valley and Demarest in September and entered October at 4-4. After winning 8 in a row, the Knights lost three in a row, understandably to IHA and Demarest in a regular season game and in the Bergen County Tournament. They have been impressive in the state playoffs and beat Pascack Valley and Sparta to get to the final. They have some great wins this season including Tenafly, Ridgewood, Pascack Valley and Ramsey. They are sound, have a remarkable history, and will be very tough to beat.

Old Tappan Players to Watch:

Jola Olutiola is the #4 player in New Jersey. The senior has been lights out this season posting over 200 kills. She is a superb athlete and dominant presence for the Knights. Junior Emma Gabo has quarterbacked this team masterfully and freshman Sam Kranzler has been one of the biggest impact first year players in the state. Samantha is in the top 8% of all players in the state in our player rater. Grayson Housely is awesome on the back line. This team is deep and capable. What is remarkable is this team has 8 underclassman on the varsity roster. Watch out next year.


These are two power teams in the Big North. Old Tappan has one of the most difficult schedules this Fall and River Dell is right behind them. With both teams depth, it will certainly be the best battle of the day, but it could come down to Olutiola vs. Idiculla and the impact they can have for their teams. Old Tappan is playing their best volleyball of the season and will be a different team than River Dell ousted in straight sets early in the season.

NJP expects this to be the best game of the day with an intense and spirited three sets. We will give the edge to River Dell but it will be a great game to watch and can go either way.



Montville and West Morris Central match up in a North 2 Group 2 showdown.

Montville enters this championship game with a 15-8 record and a five-game win streak. Their losses this year have come at the hands of Morris Knolls, Jefferson, Roxbury, Wayne Valley, Mendham, and Morristown. Their signature wins this season have been against Kinnelon, Chatham, Caldwell and Lyndhurst.

Montville Players to Watch:

Sofia Fernandez has been a top player in the state, currently ranked 11th in NJ in the NJP Player Rater. This senior does it all on the attack, defensively on the block and the back line, and on the service line. Michela Voit is a leader in the state in assists, has a super high VBIQ, and excels in all aspects of the game. With Ellie Rothenbuhler and Kate Gorski, they have 4 players in the top 10# in NJ. Keezer and Merlino are scrappy and athletic. They have a nice mix of senior leaders and young players emerging.

West Morris Central is a victim of their schedule. They have taken on some of NJ’s best which is reflecting in a record of 10-12. One would think from the records in this match, that it would be greatly tilted toward Montville. Here are the teams that WMC lost to this season: Mendham, Sparta, Roxbury, North Hunterdon, Ridge, Wayne Valley, Bogota, and Hudson Catholic. All top 20 teams at points during the season. They have signature wins against Morris Knolls, Mount Olive, Morris Catholic, and Passaic Valley. They have taken sets from Wayne Valley, North Hunterdon, Mendham, Bogota, Sparta and Hudson Catholic. This is a strong team that is battle tested and ready for their time to shine.

WMC Players to Watch:

Junior Ava Novello is a strong leader for this team. She is currently ranked #24 in our player rater. They are loaded with upper classman talent, have multiple setters on the floor, and has a super strong libero in Angelina Mauro. They have 4 players above 90% for players in the state. They are great on defense and can always keep the ball in play.


NJP favors West Morris in this match-up. They have played a high caliber of opponents this season and it will benefit them greatly when the game is on the line. Montville needs to get out early and build some momentum. If they fall behind in the first game, it’s going to be an uphill battle to get back in.

This should be a close match but the math projects that West Morris will end up on top.



West Morris Mendham and Governor Livingston matchup in the Central Group 2 championship game.

Mendham is one of the state’s best squads. They have been in the NJP top 10 for almost the entire year. They have 4 losses this year coming at the hands of Roxbury, Sparta, and Hunterdon Central. They have beaten Roxbury, Madison, West Morris Central, Jefferson, Sparta, Morris Knolls, Montville, and Mount Olive. They avenged both losses to Sparta and Roxbury on round 2. They have also performed well in tournaments throughout the season.

Mendham Player’s to Watch:

Sarah Wilcock, a premier beach volleyball in NJ who has already committed to play D1 college beach volleyball, has been outstanding all season and is the top 40 for the NJP individual player rater. Mendham has 6 players in the top 18% of all players in NJ. Senior Poppy Skjonnamend is a force in the middle and at the pins and will be moving to play middle due to an injury to Annibelle Ernst. Annibelle is an outstanding player and not having her in the lineup will hurt. But Mendham has depth and rework their strategy using other talent. Ania Trzesniowski has had a great senior year at the pin and Katie Webber has been perfect in the 6-2 set-up.

Governor Livingston has had a great season at 18-5. They have slotted in as the second or third best team in Union County behind Kent Place and possibly Westfield. They lost to Linden, Summit, Westfield, Morris Catholic, and SPF. They beat Verona, Raritan, Linden, and Columbia. They did not stray far from the UCC in their schedule and post an average schedule strength. They did not match up with Kent Place this season. And have really not played a team of Mendham’s caliber.

Governor Livingston Players to Watch:

The Highlanders rely on Isabella Garay to orchestrate their attack usually fueled through two senior Abby Periera and Brooke Gyory. Gyory has been super on the block as well as the attack. Sophomore Annabelle Kuzmin has risen up this year and had a great season with 76 kills.


Mendham is a clear favorite from NJP’s formula. They have a six-point advantage in rating which typically relates to a 95%+ chance of winning. GL is overmatched in just about every statistical category except aces. Even with the injury, we expect the Minutewomen to take this home match and keep advancing.

The algorithm has installed Mendham as a clear favorite to bring home the sectional title.



Wall has had a solid season with 15 wins in 23 games. They have losses to St. John Vianney, RFH, Jackson Liberty, Raritan and Colts Neck. Their best wins have been against Raritan, St. Rose, PPB, and in the tourney, Cedar Creek and Pinelands. They have a middle of the line schedule strength and have stayed at the shore for the vast majority of their schedule.

Wall Players to Watch:

Senior setter Mia Saltzman has had a strong and balanced season. She has 73 aces which puts her right near the top of the best servers. She is versatile and athletic. Maxine Erlanger has been a force on the attack and Kate Stedronsky has been solid on the block and the attack. Kristen Williamson is a versatile defender and leads the team in digs with 140.

Barnegat has had a great year and is 17-9 overall this season. They have taken on some of the best teams in south jersey and have a ton of sets under their belts that have prepared them well for this playoff run. Their losses this season have been to TRN, Pinelands, TRS, Jackson Liberty, TRE, Donovan Catholic, Southern, St. John Vianney, and Washington Township.

Barnegat Players to Watch:

Senior Patria Moreno is wrapping up an amazing high school career and would like nothing better than putting the finishing touches on with a sectional championship, or more. She has developed the offensive attack for the Bengals and spread the wealth among 4 different players that have 100 or more kills. Barnegat is very strong on the attack but may be even better defensively with 4 players over 100 digs this season.


Barnegat has an edge up according to the math. Wall needs to force the action and disrupt the Bengals momentum from the get go. Keeping Barnegat out of system will be a challenge as they have of the best setters to drive their attack and offensive charge. Barnegat may just have too many weapons. Mia Maltzman will need to match up on every point and unleash Wall’s offense prowess to get Barnegat back on its heels.

The math points to Barnegat here and Patria Moreno getting a Sectional championship in her senior year.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: