September 15, 2023

We are now ten days into the season and still collecting data and information to educate us on where teams fit into the rankings. We will start with some crucial tidbits learned since Monday’s blog:

Two teams in the NJIC locked horns on Tuesday, both touting undefeated records. We expected Lyndhurst to be very good this season after taking the Harrison summer league in grand fashion. Secaucus was part of our NJP top 30 for pre-season so this was an important match for both squads. The match did not disappoint as the teams battled into a deciding third set. Amaya Ocasio again orchestrated the symphony spreading kills from 6 attackers as she posted 20 assists along with 2 blocks, 2 aces and 2 kills to lead Secaucus to the win. They are now 5-0 and have wins against Harrison, Bogota, and Lyndhurst. The Bears will stay in the hunt as its still early season but looked solid with Asya Akar, Yasemin Ugurlu, Sofia Hechavarria and Kiana Marizan leading the way. Secaucus is getting contributions from many players including some major stats from 4 sophomores. Olivia Jasiczek leads the team with 34 kills and 5 blocks, Avalyn Torres already has 59 digs and 17 aces, Sofia Guzman has posted 31 digs, 19 kills, and 11 aces, and Apollonia Dicanio has 20 digs and 7 aces. When you combine these underclassman with seniors Isabella Otero, Amaya Ocasio, and Arielle Nunez, it forms a powerful squad that can bring some heat in the NJIC.

Donovan Catholic is certainly living up to the pre-season ranking of #2 in NJ as they have been taking care of business since opening night through tonight with signature wins. The opening night win over Colts Neck started the season right, yesterday’s straight set thrashing of previously unbeaten Barnegat, and tonight’s double dip with wins over #10 Union Catholic and #5 Williamstown screams out “Come and get us…” The Griffins are now 7-0 and most of the state is already circling their calendars for the showdown on 10/9 when Donovan hosts #1 Southern. Lots of volleyball before then including a trip to Vianney on 9/30 for the Griffins. MD’s roster is stacked with talent with outside Shantel Starling leading the way along with standouts Macayla Linder (OH), Carly (MB) and Brooke (OP) Bowliss, Daniella Tischio and Liz Kavanaugh sharing duties at setter and Caleigh Austin on defense. The Griffins are off the chart impressive so far.

Southern is 4-0 and will face St. John Vianney Saturday morning. They have already knocked off a very solid Old Bridge squad in a convincing manner and appear ready to tackle a very strong schedule as always. Next Tuesday at Washington Township will be telling. Jordyn Hamlin, Jessica Smart and Molly Regulski have been lights out. And Southern is always known for not letting anything drop and have a full team of sharp diggers.

Shore A North is seeing a changing of the guard this season with Colts Neck starting off 0-4. Marlboro senior Cece Marino has been outstanding in 4 straight wins for the Mustangs noting they have not lost a set as of yet. Howell is also undefeated at 3-0.

East Brunswick appears to be showing the same form from the 2021 season when they went 24-1, as they have gotten out to a 4-0 start. Seniors Julia Gawel, Kasey Traska and Morgan Stoner are highly contributing. The Bears will face unbeaten Monroe this coming week which should be a great match.

The UCC Watchung division looks like a blast this season. Westfield is leading the way and undefeated at 3-0. But the rest of the division is very evenly matched with high quality teams that can surprise on any given night. Union Catholic and Governor Livingston are very strong and Kent Place, SPF and Elizabeth are not far behind in talent. This division will be super fun to watch this year. Both Kent Place and Union Catholic took Westfield to 3 sets so far this season. The senior pin pairing of Caitlin Cabrales and Abbigail Pevzner joined with sophomore Ava Gaspard will drive the attack and Chloe Wiedman, Genevieve Gauthier, and Giuliana Gallo anchor the back line for the Blue Devils.

You have to love the way the Princeton high school program is shaping up. The team is fueled by underclassman with sophomores driving 85% of the attack points. The Tigers are 4-0, look very complete, and return almost all of their starters again next season. Naomi Lygas, Kaelin Bobetich, and Charlotte Woods will be mentioned often over the next three seasons along with junior leader Lois Matsukawa at setter.

Another great story so far this season is the reemergence of Northern Highlands as a power in the Big North. The team had an off-year in 2022 after graduating one of their premier players over the previous 4 year, Ruby van der Heide. Ruby has continued her success at Columbia University where she played in 22 matches and 78 sets as a first-year student posting 452 assists, 121 digs, 15 kills, 15 aces, and 8 blocks. This season, her sister, Delia has been grabbing attention as she enters her junior year. Delia leads the team in kills and blocks and along with Chloe Anselmi, Anna Bryan-Jones, Allie Reilly, and Eva Anderson, have turned the Highlanders back into a force for 2023. Knocking off top 20 ranked Demarest was a huge win this week.

Another dominant program from the past has shown solid signs of a strong return. The Hudson Catholic Hawks are 3-0 with Coach Shaylah Ware off to a great start. This team may not have the high level multi-stud talent as seen pre-pandemic, but they appear to be ruffling some feathers early. We will see how high the Hawks can fly this season. If senior Sydney Salazar continues to excel, it will be a fun season for HC.

IHA appears to be staying close to home on their schedule this season. It may be indicating of nothing… the furthest south team on the schedule is Verona. No out of state tourney yet on the schedule. If it was any other team, you might read some things into that decision. We will find out how good IHA is this season when they match up against Old Tappan on 9/21 and Pascack Valley on 9/27. The lighter schedule combined with not playing some of the South power teams may hurt when it comes down to state playoffs.

The Skyland conference will see some premier matchups this upcoming week with undefeated Hillsborough taking on both Hunterdon Central and Bridgewater-Raritan. Junior Aileen Xu is off to another great start for the Raiders.

Players… make sure to send us your volleyball action pics. We will be using many photos throughout the season and if you have rights to team photography or your parents are taking some great photos, send them over. You can send to and put your name, team, position and number in the topic section. If you have permission from photographers, please let us know their names so we can give attribution. We often take your pics and re-invent them with color animation.

We expect our first NJP computer ranking next weekend. Stay tuned.

Here is a stat dump of leaders in each category through midnight September 15, 2023… (Excluded teams = Jefferson, Pope John, Lakewood)


2 thoughts on “Girl’s Blog 9/15/23”
  1. Eva Sottosanti and Abby Kim from Governor Livingston are missing from the kill stats. And both of them should be on the elite 80 list but they are not.

  2. My apologies for the previous comment about Abby Kim and Eva Sottosanti missing from the kill stats. I thought that the block stats were still the kill stats! But I stand by my comment that they should be in the NJ elite 80!

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