May 22, 2023
NJP takes a look at each of the sectional and group configurations and gives its insights on which teams will emerge from the tournaments…
First up is Group 1!
What a great job Coach Jordan Sarro has done Passaic Charter. Since taking over post-COVID, the team has improved every year with the 2022 campaign at 17-7 and now this season where they sport a 20-4 record with wins over Vernon, Snyder, Jefferson, and Clifton. Yes, they are on a three game losing streak but they were against Randolph, Wayne Valley, and Fair Lawn, all top teams. The combination of Matute and Veras has been lethal and they are now deeper at other positions, especially with setter Francisco Jardinez. They will most likely get the second seed and have a much tougher road to finals, especially if West Caldwell Tech is #3. WCT is a viable candidate to make the finals as well with just two losses, a three setter to PCTI the SEC semi-final to Livingston where they held their own. Martin and Fung have been sensational on the attack all season with underclassman sophomore Dennis Ayora orchestrating the offense and standout first-year student John Jimenez on the back line. But we do expect that either of these potential top teams will be visiting Harrison for the finals. The Blue Tide has breezed the schedule toting a 25-2 record and a fresh victory in the Hudson County tournament over Kearny. They are clear favorites to win North 1 despite the algorithm not loving their schedule strength and having them at #14 in the state. Noting Harrison only has two losses and they were to #2 SPF and #6 Fair Lawn. The Harrison attack has too many weapons and Coach Landy will have his team razor sharp for the new playoff structure and a potential state championship looming.
Vianney, Vianney, Vianney! The Lancers are a lopsided favorite to come out on top in South 1. Just three losses this year and they took Southern to 3 sets at the beginning of the month. They have a 7 rating point advantage over McNair who is currently #2. McNair and Cinnaminson are within 8 rating points but in bulges to a 12 rating point difference after that. So we expect SJV to dominate this field. There is a strong senior core here with Jack Farah, Matt Brana, Zach Martin, Dan Herndon, and Josh Hrabosky alongside junior Nick Huzar that bring athleticism and a strong attack. It will take a Herculean effort for any team in the grid to take them down. The Gadaleta’s may be in for more post-season hardware.
North vs South
The NJP algorithm currently favors the South with St. John Vianney with a slight edge over Harrison. Currently, it would be #11 vs #14 that is close enough to predict that it will go three sets.
PREDICTION FOR GROUP 1 WINNER: St. John Vianney Lancers