April 8, 2022
We have one full week of the new boys high school volleyball season in the books in New Jersey and we are already starting to make some key observations for the season ahead. Let’s jump right in…
The NJP rating formula is already starting to pinpoint some of the 2022 best teams. The sample size is very small and we traditionally like to get at least one more week of data before listing rankings. But based on the first 7 days of math, we think the following teams are all in the top echelon with a “very” preliminary top 20:
TOO-EARLY TOP 20
- Old Bridge: 6-0
- SPF: 6-0
- St. Joe’s Metuchen: 5-1
- Southern: 4-0
- Hillsborough: 4-2
- Hunterdon Central: 2-0
- Livingston: 3-0
- Bridgewater Raritan: 2-1
- CBA: 3-0
- Fair Lawn: 4-4
- Vernon: 4-0
- Jackson Liberty: 3-0
- Jefferson: 2-0
- Lakeland: 4-0
- Bergenfield: 3-0
- Williamstown: 3-0
- Summit: 4-0
- Colts Neck: 3-0
- Bloomfield: 4-0
- Howell: 2-1
Others that have gotten off to a great start according to the algorithm… Teaneck (2-0), Vianney (1-1), Bergen Tech (3-0), PCTI (3-0), Manchester (3-0), Harrison (3-1), Bayonne (3-0), West Essex (2-0) and Union (2-1). There are a slew of other teams that remain undefeated after the first week and have the possibility of jumping up in the rankings when NJP puts out it’s first formal ranking around Easter.
NJP likes to look at per set statistics when it comes to individual accomplishments. It’s the only way to keep apple to apple comparison of players contributions. Some teams have packed on an early schedule and have already played an enormous amount of sets. Fair Lawn leads with 17 sets in the books already in the first week. Newark Eastside has 16. Four teams have 15 sets played (Hillsborough, Passaic Charter, Kingsway, and Clifton). The average sets played thus far per team is 7, so we will see wide disparity between overall leaders in each statistical category and per/set leaders. Let’s highlight some of them here…
Senior Vinil Shah of Hillsborough already has 64 kills in the short season and leads all players in the state in that category. He has a very high kill/set total of 4.27 which ranks him 10th in the state. Justin Zapata (North Brunswick) and CJ Barker (Don Bosco) are averaging almost 7 kills per set thus far but have played far less matches. Other players of note who had quick starts in kills/set are Julian Jasiak (Lakeland, 6.14), Evan Weiner (Manchester, 6.0), Masa Hamada (Bergenfield, 5.5), and Alex Casais (Bayonne, 5.29). Jack Farah, the Vianney Lancer who broke out last season as a sophomore, is tallying 4.8 kills per set thus far.
Vincent Lopez has an amazing 23 blocks in the first week. The Fair Lawn junior is on his way to big season. He is 11th in the state in blocks/set at 1.35. Amaan Khan of JP Stevens leads all blockers in NJ with 2.6 blocks per set. Aiden Nicholls of Hammonton is second with 2.14 and William Mullins of Kearny is third in the state at 2.13. Pawandeep Singh is the only other player at 2 blocks+ per set in NJ.
Well, how about Aidan Thompson of St. Joe’s Metuchen? He leads the state in both total digs at 90, and digs per set at a whopping 7.5. Quite an accomplishment for the Falcon senior who is off to a great start and anchors the defense for the Top 5 team. John Inamagua of Union City, Jake Nagle of Toms River North, and Jonathan Boccieri of Freehold Borough are all averaging over 6 digs a set. Other names you will hear quite often this season when we talk about defense are Zach Chung of SPF, Cobey Sedaka of Fair Lawn. and Brian Mendoza of Bergen Catholic.
Fair Lawn setter Massimo Caravaglia leads the state on overall assists. Momo has tallied 156 helpers already. David Flores of Old Bridge and Nick Schmidt of SPF have both topped the 100 mark thus far. Caravaglia is 12th in the state in assists per set and David and Nick are 7th and 11th in NJ respectively. Vianney’s Josh Hrabosky leads the state in assists per set thus far with 12. Wojciech Szczech of Manchester and Ralph Abad of Snyder round out the top 3.
Vinil Shah of Hillsborough already has put up 20 aces in the first week. There are 5 players in NJ averaging over 2 aces per set. They are Ralph Abad (Snyder, 2.83), Antonio Szczech (Manchester, 2.5), Mauricio Catalan (Colts Neck, 2.43), Trevor Van Valkenburgh one of last years freshman standouts (Jackson Liberty, 2.17) and Erik Estrada (Bergen Charter, 2.13). Aces are a great indication of a players ability overall.
Some other team notes:
Great start for second year program Middletown South who earn a three set victory over Marlboro and get an early season win.
Bayonne is undefeated and may be the strongest team in Hudson County. Both Kearny and St. Peter’s Prep, who were Top 10 teams last season, look like they may be in rebuilding years.
The Skyland will once again be a very rough division for opponents. Hunterdon Central, Hillsborough, and Bridgewater Raritan are all looking strong.
Passaic Charter is certainly a team to watch this season. They are off to a 7-0 start which is as many wins as in the history of their program. We will be following them closely. Love stories like this.
Early season tournament will most likely be bountiful this weekend. Make sure to take a quick photo of the final grid and email us at email@example.com so we can share with the community.
If you are looking for some college volleyball matches to go to this weekend, why not support some of the NJ D3 teams as they wind down their seasons and attempt to retain births in the NCAA tournament. NJCU will be playing Saturday with a NCAA birth at stake against St. Joe’s Long Island. Rutgers Newark will be home at the Dome on Friday at 5PM against Marymount University and hopefully Saturday at 4PM vs (winner of Juniata and Southern Virgina) for the CVC tournament final with a win giving them a birth in the NCAA tournament as well. Stevens will also be playing home at Canavan at 6PM on Saturday as they try to win the MAC championship over Messiah. .