VOORHEES – This time the Silver Knights were not to be denied.
After having lost twice previously to Eastern this season, the Sterling High School boys volleyball team picked a great time to exact its revenge – Wednesday's South sectional semifinals of the state volleyball tournament.
Sterling seized the momentum in the first game, scoring the first three points and never trailed. It led by as many as nine points and won 25-19. In the second game, it was Eastern that jumped on top early but Sterling never fell too far behind, eventually pulling even at 13-13 and going on to win 25-19.
The 2-0 victory before a loud, spirited crowd in the Vikings gymnasium, enabled Sterling, which was seeded third, to advance to the regional championship match on Friday against top-seeded Southern Regional which beat Pennsauken, 2-0, also on Wednesday.
The Silver Knights had lost to Eastern on a Saturday morning early in the season, 2-0, and again later, in a tournament right before the state playoffs. Still they never doubted they could win and were motivated to prove it.
“We wanted this one bad,” said Sterling senior Erik Egan. “We had lost to them twice, once in an actual game and once in a tournament. When we’re running on all cylinders, no one can touch us. We’re a great team together and we played together today.”
The Silver Knights knew how important it was to jump in front right from the outset. With Marvin Jones a force at the net, the Silver Knights scored the first three points in the opening game.
“It was very important,” said Arios Pierre-Louis. “The last two times we played them they got a lead on us. We turned the tables on them this time and it played in our favor.”
The fact it was Jones who kick-started the Silver Knights was huge according to Egan.
“Marvin had one of his better games today” said Egan. “Anytime we can have someone other than me get a kill, that is awesome.”
Sterling opened up leads of five, six and seven points and had its largest lead at 22-13 before Eastern mounted a comeback but the Vikings couldn’t overcome the big hole they had dug for themselves.
“We both have big hitters,” said Eastern coach Tom Armour. “They have a couple and we have a couple so I don’t think they overpowered us today. The team that made the fewest mistakes won.”
Eastern started the second game by scoring the first two points and built its lead up to five at 13-8 before Sterling started to chip away. Jones, Egan and John Gorczynski scored points to enable the Silver Knights to tie the game at 13-13.
“When they got out on us in the second game we knew we had to step up and every one of us did.” said Tony Fedoriw. “We didn’t have to rely on one person. Everybody chipped in and we got back into the game.“
The game went back and forth until Fedoriw’s block put the Silver Knights on top for good 21-20. From there it was just a matter of closing it out.
Egan led the Silver Knights, now 22-1, with 11 kills, one block and 10 digs but, as Fedoriw said, everyone contributed. Fedoriw had three kills, a block and 10 digs. Gorczynski had five kills and 11 digs and Jones had a big day with eight kills, two blocks and 5 digs. Jared Morales registered 26 assists, one block and three digs while Pierre-Louis also had three kills.
Eastern, which fell to 18-3 overall, was led by Bill Fischer with eight kills, Tyler Cavarocchi who had three kills and a dig, Wade Comer with three aces and three kills and Joe Kerr who had two kills and 17 assists.