Southern Regional Falls to Old Bridge in State Final for Second Consecutive Year

Going Around: Southern Regional senior Drew McNellis provides on a hit during the first video game of the Rams’ 25-20, 23-25, 16-25 reduction to Outdated Bridge in the NJSIAA Condition Championship on June 9. (Photographs by David Biggy)
Coming into the NJSIAA Boys Volleyball State Championship match on June 9, many almost certainly had figured Southern Regional was the favourite to earn a seventh condition crown. On paper, it unquestionably appeared that way.
The Rams were being undefeated, on a 33-match successful streak throughout which they had missing just two online games the full extend, and those people squads that had managed to get Southern to three game titles in a match weren’t on the other side of the internet inside of South Brunswick Substantial College. As a substitute, it was defending winner Old Bridge, bringing with it a 25-7 history.
Cue some previous sports activities adages – no matter if it’s “hard to beat a team 3 times” or “when it will come to the playoffs, what transpired for the duration of the normal year does not matter” or that “it’s not above until eventually it’s over.” Turns out, all 3 have been spot on.
“It’s always something which is mentioned – it’s challenging to defeat a team three instances,” stated Southern head mentor Eric Maxwell, just after his Rams missing their a person and only match of the season, 25-20, 23-25, 16-25, as the Knights captured a fourth consecutive condition title. “But, inside of, it is a lot more like, ‘If we’re improved than them, then we just have to go out and conquer them once more.’ They acquired improved late in the year and they ended up hungry. We just did not get the work accomplished.”
In the course of the normal period, Southern swept Previous Bridge on two events, most not long ago suitable before the point out event started – the Rams won a tuneup match, 27-25, 25-17, on May well 19. And Southern yet again was in control throughout the point out title clash, scoring the to start with-sport victory and the momentum evidently on its side midway by way of the next.
Even so, the Knights, which had shed to St. Joseph-Metuchen a few moments for the duration of the frequent period ahead of knocking off the leading seed in the Central Jersey final, adopted by a gain above Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the point out semifinals on June 7 right after dropping to the Raiders during the regular year, fought again.
GET HYPED: Southern Regional senior Nick DiMaria celebrates following scoring on a kill in the second recreation of the Rams’ 2-1 loss to Outdated Bridge in the NJSIAA Condition Championship match at South Brunswick Significant College.
Following the Rams took a 13-8 guide on a get rid of from Lucas Kean, a provider error opened the door for Outdated Bridge, which added two extra details right before Kean temporarily slowed down the Knights with a further of his 14 kills, keeping Southern’s guide at a few factors, 14-11. The subsequent four details went to Outdated Bridge, as junior hitter Blake Krapf swatted a pair of kills, scored on an ace and a block to swing the momentum.
“We were up 5 and made a services error coming out of a timeout,” Maxwell recalled. “Instead of placing the ball on the ground – they were emotion some force there, at that point – and earning them do one thing, we gave them the best sideout in the world. You just simply cannot do that in matches like this.”
The Rams and Knights went back and forth for the upcoming eight details, and Southern regained the guide, 18-17, immediately after senior Drew McNellis banged down one particular of his 8 kills to tie the next recreation before an Aged Bridge serve hit the internet, but a different provider mistake once more knotted the recreation at 18-18.
McNellis slammed a ball to the flooring to make it 19-19, ahead of the Knights seized momentum for fantastic, taking a 21-19 lead when Massimo Roco sent back again-to-back again points. Roco shipped one more destroy to make it 23-20, but Kean and senior Gavin Bates dropped balls to the ground to make it 24-23. Aged Bridge gained the match when Southern’s double-block endeavor on a hit by Krapf bounced out of bounds.
“In between games, we just said that we’d worked tricky all period to permit this go,” Kean reported. “We claimed we had been likely to earn it, but it didn’t come about.”
YOU DIG?: Southern Regional senior libero Finn Olcott sends a move toward the entrance row as classmates Nick Piserchia and Gavin Bates (10) seem on throughout the next recreation of the Rams’ 2-1 loss to Previous Bridge in the point out title contest on June 9.
The Rams started the sport perfectly, using a 3-1 lead following senior Nick DiMaria strike a ball to the ground for a kill, Aged Bridge hit the net on its future offensive established, then hit a ball out to give Southern the first guide. But it was immediately erased and, at 5-5, the Knights merely took about. Soon after Krapf designed it 7-5 with consecutive aces, Previous Bridge went on a 15-7 outburst to go up, 22-12 – a deficit the Rams hadn’t faced all period.
“We permit up in that 3rd activity and then gave up there towards the finish,” stated Kean, who mustered four blocks as very well as four digs. “It’s genuinely our individual faults that we misplaced this match.”
An Aged Bridge assistance mistake, a block by DiMaria and McNellis, and one more solo block and get rid of from McNellis trimmed the lead to 7, 23-16, but the Knights place the exclamation point on their stellar postseason to turn out to be the very first method in point out historical past to get 4 straight titles.
Bates concluded with seven kills, though senior libero Finn Olcott – who shipped arguably the most thrilling issue of the match when his diving, just one-handed dig in the 2nd recreation managed to drop into the back suitable corner for his only kill of the season – concluded with 10 digs, and senior Matthew Rekuc managed a few kills. Sophomore setter Angelo Addiego tallied 31 helps and 11 digs to go with two blocks, and senior Nick Piserchia scored on an ace.
“We labored our butts off and had been organized, so it’s type of really hard to determine out what tactic to just take going into this offseason,” reported Maxwell, whose crew easily defeated Honest Lawn, 25-10, 25-18, in the semifinals on June 7. “I don’t imagine we could have carried out substantially more to get ready for this. Every single time we received a significant match, these men had been in the fitness center performing harder to get far better. We just essential to carry out improved right now when it seriously mattered. This was the likelihood to have that actually amazing season, but it will stink permanently.”
Towards the Cutters, Kean finished with nine kills and two blocks, whilst McNellis registered six kills, Bates shipped three kills and 3 blocks, and Addiego turned in a kill, four digs, two aces and 17 assists. Rekuc included two kills and a block, and Olcott finished with nine digs.
— David Biggy
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