LEADING THE WAY: Rachael Pharo had a big match against Williamstown on March 20, as the Southern Regional girls volleyball team jumped out to a 4-0 record to start the new season last week. (File photo by David Biggy)
The first week of Season 3 was a winning one for all Southern Regional, Barnegat and Pinelands Regional squads, and all three girls volleyball teams carried undefeated seasons into their second weeks.
Perhaps the most impressive unbeaten streak of Week 1 belonged to the Southern girls volleyball crew, which not only won four straight – three over divisional opponents – but also knocked off one of the better teams in the state, defending NJSIAA Group IV champion Williamstown, on March 20.
During the 2-1 victory, the Rams (4-0) roared back from a 25-19 loss in the first game to win the next two, 25-19, 25-23. While the Braves slightly outhit Southern throughout the match, the Rams had the better defense, accumulating 44 digs among them, including 10 from Rachael Pharo, eight more from Madison Gellis and seven each from Regina Ingling and Jordyn Hamlin.
Pharo led the offense with 12 kills and a pair of aces, while Stephanie Soares delivered 28 assists, 11 service points and two aces, and Hailea Krause scored on eight kills. Emma Gildea also scored on a trio of blocks and three aces. Corinne Hughes and Hamlin also banged down four kills apiece.
On Monday, March 22, the Rams capped their opening win streak with an easy 25-15, 25-15 win over Toms River North. Pharo registered four kills and four aces, while Krause contributed four kills, Soares recorded 10 assists and three aces, and Gildea also tossed in three aces and a pair of blocks.
Earlier last week, on March 20, Southern cruised by Lacey, 25-8, 25-11. Krause hammered five kills and Gildea smashed four, while Ingling managed 12 service points with two aces, Brianna Otto and Erin Allegre each delivered a pair of aces, and Hamlin crushed four kills, scored on a block and served up an ace. Hughes added three kills.
To start the season on March 17, the Rams again routed Lacey, 25-7, 25-13, as Krause led the offense with seven kills. Gildea managed four kills and Soares gave out 14 assists. Adrianna Conforti scored on 11 service points, including four aces. Otto also had three aces.
Cruise Past Foes
Southern wasn’t the only girls volleyball squad to go without a loss during its first week. Pinelands and Barnegat accomplished the feat as well – the Wildcats cruising past four opponents and the Bengals scoring victories in their first two contests of the season.
The Wildcats (4-0) started the season March 16 with a 25-20, 25-11 win over Lacey, as Olivia Anderson led the way with four kills, seven digs and two aces. Morgan Muller whacked four kills, while Emilia Savich and Jayne Wilkinson each bashed three kills, and Molly Quigley-Sanborn handed out 12 assists. Carly Brunke and Abigale Wood were big on defense with seven and six digs, respectively, and each scored on four aces.
The next day during a 25-21, 25-18 win over Jackson Liberty, Anderson led the way with 13 kills and six digs, while Quigley-Sanborn gave out 17 assists, and Ciara Rheiner delivered eight kills and two blocks. Brunke also had seven digs and a pair of aces, and Arianna Loftus contributed two aces as well.
Two days later, the Wildcats had to come back from a game down against the Lions but ultimately prevailed with 25-23 and 25-14 wins during the next two games. Quigley-Sanborn handed out 22 assists, while Anderson tallied 13 kills, five digs and three aces, Rheiner added nine kills, seven digs and three aces, and Brunke contributed nine digs and a whopping six aces. Wood also mustered eight digs, and Loftus managed six more.
Pinelands capped its solid first week with a 25-16, 25-20 win over Central on March 20. Wood scored on seven aces and recorded six digs, while Brunke tallied 11 digs, Anderson had three kills, six digs and a trio of aces, and Rheiner hammered down eight kills.
Meanwhile, Barnegat kicked off its season with a pair of 2-0 wins over Lakewood – the first a 25-20, 25-23 win on March 17, followed by a 25-16, 25-16 victory two days later. During the latest victory over the Piners, Veronica Tikhomirova led the offense with 10 kills and an ace, while Gianna Gerkins added five kills and Patria Moreno scored three kills, 17 assists and five aces. Julianna Viola contributed a pair of aces, and Ashley Berger and Nina Soberano each registered three digs.
During the Bengals’ first win of the season, Moreno tallied eight kills, three digs and 13 assists, while Tikhomirova banged down nine kills, gave out three assists and scored on five aces, and Soberano contributed four digs and two assists. Robbiann Erskine and Avery O’Cone also had two kills each.
Rout All Opponents
No question the better opponents on Southern Regional wrestling team’s schedule will arrive a bit later in the season, because the first four barely put up a fight as the Rams cruised to four straight victories by a combined score of 252-24.
TURN HIM!: Cole Velardi and the Southern Regional wrestling team barely gave up points during four straight victories to start the season. (File photo by David Biggy)
Following a 75-0 rout of Toms River South to open the season on March 16, which included pins by Dylan Verge, Conor Collins, Chris Lubeski, Matt Henrich, Nate Bischoff, Evan Graczyk, Tyler Chase, Stephen Jennings, Reilly O’Boyle and Pat Fulginiti, the Rams received their toughest bout of the opening week during a 53-13 win over Central Regional on March 18.
Still, the Rams were in no danger of losing, rolling to a 50-0 lead before the Golden Eagles scored their first points at 182 pounds. Along the way, Dylan Verge scored a pin in 3:08 at 106, before Tyler Verge registered a 17-1 technical fall in 5:33 at 120, and Lubeski pinned in 4:43 at 126. Henrich pinned in 20 seconds at 132, while Eddie Hummel scored a 16-0 technical fall in 4:31 at 145, Nate Bischoff delivered a 13-0 major decision at 152, Gracyzk added a 7-3 win at 160, and Cole Velardi won an 8-1 decision at 170 pounds. O’Boyle capped the winning effort with a 9-6 decision at 220.
During a 60-3 bruising of Seneca on March 19, Dylan Verge pinned at 106, while Collins pinned at 113, Kellen Bischoff pinned in 5:17 at 120, Lubeski pinned at 126, Nick Bennet pinned in 2:51 at 132, Hummel pinned at 145 and Fulginiti pinned at heavyweight. In Monday’s 64-8 victory over Middle Township, Matt Brielmeier pinned in 2:40 at 138 pounds, before Hummel pinned in 3:52 at 145, Graczyk pinned in 40 seconds at 160, Collin French pinned in 2:23 at 170, and Jennings pinned in 2:59 at 195 pounds.
Pinelands Wrestling Team
Starts Season 3-1
After winning just three contests a year ago, the Pinelands wrestling team already matched that total in its first week of the new season, scoring victories over Donovan Catholic, Central and Lakewood during a 3-1 stretch.
CRUISING: Mason Livio cruised to victory multiple times during the Pinelands Regional wrestling team’s first week, as the Wildcats started with three wins. (File photo by David Biggy)
In their 43-36 win over the Piners on Monday, March 22, Gavin Wagner nearly sealed the deal with an 11-0 major decision at 182 pounds, giving the Wildcats a 37-24 lead with three bouts left, but Mateo Mena dropped the hammer in the 285-pound contest by pinning his foe in 3:12. Along the way, Josiah Hart pinned in 1:08 at 113 pounds, followed by Austin Koeppen’s pin in 4:57 at 120, Nick Muso’s pin at 1:54 of the 126-pound bout, and Mason Livio’s forfeit win at 132. After Nick Sheridan won an 8-5 decision at 152, Gavin Stewart extended the lead to 33-18 with a 50-second pin at 160.
Against the Golden Eagles on March 20, the Wildcats used a seven-match stretch from 285 to 138 to score a 40-33 victory. Spotting Central 12 points through forfeits to begin the match, Pinelands started its march toward victory when Mena pinned in 4:32 at heavyweight. From there, Eric Helfrich won a 4-3 decision at 106, Hart pinned at 113, Koeppen won an 11-3 major at 120, Livio pinned in 1:08 at 126, Muso pinned in 2:54 at 132, and Mark Siino won a 6-2 decision at 138 to put the Wildcats up, 34-12. Stewart closed out the winning effort with a pin at 160.
To start the season on March 16, Pinelands cruised past Donovan, 56-21, with most of the Wildcats’ points coming by way of forfeit. Of the matches that were contested, Livio won a 5-3 decision at 126, while Muso won a 24-9 tech fall at 3:50 at 132, and Sheridan scored a pin at 3:02 in the 160-pound clash. Three days later, Pinelands lost a 60-12 contest against Lacey, during which only Livio, who pinned at 120, and Mena, who was awarded a forfeit, were victorious.
Start with Two Wins
While the first clash of the season wasn’t pretty, the Barnegat wrestling team rebounded with 48-21 and 48-24 victories over Donovan Catholic and Overbrook, as the Bengals started the new season 2-1.
After a 71-9 rout against Point Pleasant Borough on March 16, the Bengals bounced back two days later with a forfeit-heavy win over the Griffins. John Bopp, Jorge Ramos, Anthony Ryan, Christian Baccigalupi, Lucas Holland, Joseph DeAngelo and Bryan Ortiz all received wins by forfeit, while Ian Wheatle scored a pin at 4:55 of the 160-pound bout and Connor Armstrong pinned in 3:45 at 195.
Two days later against Overbrook, Ryan pinned in 1:45 at 126, while Miguel Sendecki pinned in 1:35 at 138, and Seth Freiwald pinned in 45 seconds at 152 to help lead Barnegat. Kyon Goldwire capped the winning effort with a pin in 1:15 at 220 pounds.
Win Big over T.R. East
Finally, after a six-month wait, the Southern Regional gymnastics team was able to start its season and, not surprisingly, started it with a big win over Toms River East. The Rams tallied a solid 105.125 points compared to the Raiders’ 96.425.
Ava Kelly led the way with a 36.2, all-around score, while Hailey Klimas racked up 34 points to finish second all-around, and Ali English posted a 33.65 score to grab the third all-around spot.
On the vault, Kelly registered a 9.5 and Maria Mezzo delivered a 9.075. On the uneven bars, Kelly was at the top with an 8.85, followed by English with an 8.25 and Klimas with an 8.1. Kelly again led the scoring on the balance beam with an 8.7, while Emma Wasacz and Mezzo each scored 8.5 and Klimas recorded an 8.25. With the floor exercise, Kelly capped her all-around effort with a 9.15, while Klimas scored 8.95, English scored 8.85, and Klimas and Mezzo each registered an 8.65.
With one meet left against Toms River South on March 27, the Southern Regional boys and girls swim teams are one victory away from completing back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. After going 12-0 and 11-0, respectively, the Southern boys and girls both improved to 5-0 this season with victories over Brick on March 18.
During the boys’ 132-33 rout of the Green Dragons, the 200-yard medley relay crew of Luke Plesniarski, Caleb Westpy, Lukas Davis and Sean Kahl started the onslaught with a time of 2:02.68, before Jacob Werner cruised to a winning time of 2:10.81 in the 200-yard freestyle, and Sean White won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:09.83.
After Kristian Werner won the 50-yard freestyle in 23.32 seconds, Beck Jaffe clocked a :59.51 to win the 100-yard butterfly, Jacob Werner won the 100-yard freestyle in 56.36 seconds, and Matt Adams scored first-place points with a 5:37.85 in the 500-yard freestyle. Cole Nemes, Jaffe, Jacob Werner and Davis easily won the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:40.94, before Kristian Werner won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:03.51, Westpy swiped the top spot in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:13.74, and the team of Kristian and Jacob Werner and Bryan and Sean Kahl won the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3:48.54.
In the girl’s 118-51 win over the Green Dragons, the 200 medley relay of Mohini Jani, Payton Nork, Jessica Paulillo and Lauren Pascucci started the rout with a 2:12.62, before Shae Centanni won the 200 free in 2:17.08, Camilla DiGiacinto scored first-place points in the 200 IM with a 2:41.62, and Emma Mills won the 50 free in 28.34 seconds.
Following Haley Skimmons’ 1:02.65 to win the 100 free, Centanni, Brooke Boyd, Mills and Skimmons scored the victory in the 200 free relay with a time of 1:53.23, while Phoebe Sprague grabbed first in the 100 backstroke in 1:10.01, Paulillo took first in the 100 breaststroke at 1:20.64, and Mills, Skimmons, Hallie Gallagher and DiGiacinto capped the victory with a 4:15.91 in the 400 free relay.
— David Biggy