About the School
|School:||Our Lady of Mercy Academy|
|Type:||Private (Roman Catholic)|
|General Classification:||South - B|
|Address:||001 Main Road Newfield, NJ, (Gloucester County), 08344|
|Principal:||Sr. Grace Marie, DM.|
|Athletic Director:||Helen Shollenberger|
|Athletic Conference:||Cape Atlantic|
|Team Name & Motto:||Villagers - Knowledge and Truth|
|Team Colors:||Green & Gold|
DEPTFORD TWP. -- For the past 15 years, the Williamstown High School girls volleyball team has won the Olympic Conference title.
So, going into the inaugural Gloucester County girls volleyball tournament, head coach Chris Sheppard and his team wanted to be the first to claim that title as well.
With seniors Cait Marcano, Lindsay Przywara and Karla Johnson leading the way, the team did just that with 2-0 victories over Washington Township and GCIT.
“Winning the title was very exciting,” said Johnson, who was named to the all-tournament team. “I feel like it’s a step toward our main goal, which is (winning a state title). I think we are very prepared just like we came into this tournament.
"We didn’t underestimate any team, we took them head on and I feel like that is going to be what we are going to have to do moving forward in the playoffs.”
“It’s something that is pretty cool,” said Sheppard. “County tournaments have been going on for 30-40 years around the rest of the state, so it is pretty cool we finally got one here in our area. We talked about coming into it, that it’s the first year that it’s happening, so we wanted to be the first ones to win it, especially since we have been one of the better teams in Gloucester County.
“GCIT and Washington Township are right there. Kingsway is a team that’s on the come. We’ve been, for a better part of a lengthy period, the best team in Gloucester County, so we wanted to get our name on the very first one. We are the team that everyone has been hunting for, for so many years.”
Coming in as the No. 1 seed, the Braves earned a first round bye as No. 5 Clearview and No. 4 Washington Township battled to move into the semifinals with the Braves.
After the Minutemaids went to three sets with the Pioneers, a one versus four matchup was set, with the Braves coming out on top, 2-0 (25-18, 25-12).
In the other semifinal, No. 2 GCIT also earned a first-round bye and squared off with No. 3 Kingsway, who defeated No. 6 OLMA 2-0 in the quarterfinals. The Cheetahs dropped the first set, but came back to win the last two to defeat the Dragons 2-1.
The final match for both the Braves and Cheetahs was nothing but intense, but Williamstown was able to hold GCIT to just 21 total points over two sets winning 2-0 (25-10, 25-11).
“This was good for us as far as the state tournament goes,” said Sheppard. “It was a really good environment against a good team. We caught fire and something snowballed on them a little bit. They are a talented team. For us to get out and win the way we did was good. We did a good job not allowing a run to let them back in it, because they are talented enough to get right back in it if we had let up.”
Besides Johnson, Marcano was also named to the all-tournament team. Cait wasn’t the only Marcano to take the court. Her sister, Dominique, is a GCIT freshman. The two had a chance to face off for a few moments during the sets.
“I love playing (against Dom),” said Cait Marcano. “I love it and I think its so cool playing with my sister. I see my sister and I think it’s cool that she is on the other side of the net. But I can’t be friends with her because we have to be enemies for the little bit the game is going on.”
Przwara was named the tournament MVP after having a dominating performance and serving as the Braves' on-the-court leader.
Przwara says that with the Braves' regular season now closed, Friday’s tournament was a great warm up going into the first round of the NJSIAA Group IV playoffs next Wednesday.
“It’s a great mini-Gloucester County tournament before the big state tournament,” said Przwara. “It’s great to have won this and we are so excited to go into the state tournament.”
“With the rest of the state having county tournaments for so long, its nice for us to have us get into actual match play where it is win and move on or lose and go home,” said Sheppard. “Clearview, Washington Township, OLMA and Kingsway all walked out of here because they didn’t keep winning. That is the same pressure you are going to face in the state playoffs. Have a bad day and that’s it on the season. It was nice to have that.”
The Braves host Passaic Tech on Wednesday with the match starting at 4:30.
Zach Bates covers sports for South Jersey Sports Digest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ZachBatesSJSD.
FRANKLINVILLE — The day of the South Jersey Sectional Championships is one of the most exciting days for South Jersey high school cross country runners.
Twenty local teams as well as 40 individual runners have qualified to advance to Holmdel next Saturday for the state finals, on both the boys and girls sides.
In the SJ Group IV girls' race, Shawnee held on to its title, advancing to the state meet for the 16th time in the program’s history.
The Renegades started the race off right with senior Nina Bendixen winning her first sectional title with a time of 18:45.
“Winning the Olympic Conference and the Burlington County Open and then looking at the stats about a week ago, I said ‘What if I tried to go and win this one?' ” said Bendixen. “I was looking at the stats and looking at my competition, who are all amazing runners, so I was nervous. My coach kept showing me motivational videos, she kept telling me to trust my training, trust my coaches and trust my teammates. In the race, my coach told me not to lead the first mile, but for me to just go out how I usually do and (the other runners) will start coming back to me. And that’s what they did.”
Bendixen said she did a self-analysis with about 1,000 meters to go and used what she had left to win the race.
“When I got on the track, I remembered what one of the videos said, ‘If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.' Then I kicked it and never looked back,” Bendixen added.
The last time the Renegades had an individual winner was 1994.
Shawnee also defended its team title, which was a proud accomplishment for the girls on the squad.
“It’s super exciting (to defend our title),” said sophomore Kara Bonner, who finished in 10th place with a time of 19:32. “It was one of our main goals this season and we knew we were ranked pretty high coming in, but we don’t like to look at rankings. We don’t like to let them get into our heads and we had to stay focused on the task at hand and I’m glad we were able to come out on top.”
Clearview saw a big performance from freshman Julia Rothstein, who finished in second with a time of 18:58, to lead the Pioneers to second place.
“It was definitely one of my better races,” said Rothstein. “The competition always makes me better. They push me to go further and they push me to do better.”
In Group III, Ocean City's Devon Grisbaum came in almost a minute faster then Mainland’s Alyssa Aldridge to take the top spot with a time of 18:00, the fastest girls' time of the day.
“I’m really happy to come out first,” said Grisbaum, who also helped her team to a second place finish. “This was definitely one of my goals and I knew a lot of people thought I was the favorite, so that was nerve-wracking. It’s always good to win a sectional title and it feels really good.”
Grisbaum is no stranger to winning sectional titles, winning the indoor and outdoor track titles in the 3,200 last year.
Seneca brought home the team title, the team's second in three years and fifth overall.
It means a lot to our team to win the sectional title," said Seneca fifth-year head coach Karen O'Neil. "Last year we were upset by Ocean City for the title. This year, one of our main goals for the season was winning sectionals. The girls have been really focused for the past few weeks, and their hard work since July is paying off."
Group II saw Briana Gess of Haddonfield repeat as sectional champion, with a time of 18:06, while leading the Bulldawgs to its fifth straight and 22nd overall, which the team is tied with Ridgewood for the most in state history.
As Gess crossed the finishing line, Pinelands’ Lauren Zodl, the second-place finisher, was just entering the track.
“I grew up running by myself,” said Gess. “I like to have people to run with, because I always run a faster time that way, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I am okay with pushing myself.”
Annika Merkh won her first Group I title, to lead Haddon Township to its first team title since 2011, and its ninth title overall.
“I felt like I was going to throw up the whole time,” said Merkh, who finished with a time of 19:53. “I knew that I had to stay with the front pack the whole time and come down (past them) on the track. We are trying to get the team title, so that really pushed me to do well.”
“It’s huge because we knew it was going to be very close with Pitman and Cinnaminson,” added Hawks head coach Sylvia Smith, who is in her second stint as the head coach. “When Cinnaminson dropped down to Group I, we knew that they would be a huge contender. The girls just ran incredibly strong and they have pushed each other all season.
Defending state Group I Champion, Pitman, came in second behind the Hawks 44-51. Senior Hannah Vendetta came in two seconds behind Merkh to take second place.
“It was a tough race,” said Vendetta, who finished with a time of 19:55. “They went out really fast, so I knew that I had to stay relaxed and focus on them. Once I caught them, I was just really tired and my legs weren’t there. Then (Merkh) passed me on the track, but I’m really happy for her, because she deserved it.”
The top five teams and 10 individuals in each group advance to states next weekend at Holmdel. Below is a list of the runners and teams you will see next week.
Zach Bates is the cross country and volleyball beat writer for the South Jersey Sports Digest. He can be reached at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @ZachBatesSJSD
Teams: 1. Haddon Twp., 44; 2. Pitman, 51; 3. Cinnaminson, 61; 4. Woodstown, 121; 5. Maple Shade, 134.
Individuals: 1. Annika Merkh, Haddon Twp., 19:53; 2. Hannah Vendetta, Pitman, 19:55; 3.Haley Adams, Cinnaminson, 19:56; 4. Nora Grimm, Haddon Twp., 20:10; 5. Olivia Gerstenbacher 20:41; 6. Isabel Gallatig, Woodstown, 20:45; 7. Sarah Meighan, Pitman, 20:46; 8. Courtney Caitlin, Pennsville, 20:48; 9. Elise Davenport, Salem, 20:51; 10. Alyssa Sanders, Pitman, 20:15.
Teams: 1. Haddonfield, 34; 2. Pinelands, 92; 3. Buena, 98; 4. Delran, 100; 5. Deptford, 114.
Individuals: 1. Briana Gess, Haddonfield, 18:06; 2. Lauren Zold, Pinelands, 19:19; 3. Alexa Gostovich, Haddonfield, 19:35; 4. Maddie Tattory, Delran, 19:38; 5. Kristin Siegle, Buena, 19:42; 6. Madison Coppolino, Sterling, 19:47; 7. Gillian Schriever, Pinelands, 19:49; 8. Katherine Chinery; Manchester Twp., 19:50; 9. Emily Roth, Pinelands, 19:53; 10. Olivia Piefer, Haddonfield, 19:58.
Teams: 1. Seneca, 51; 2. Ocean City, 78; 3. Moorestown, 87; 4. Mainland, 103; 5. Lacey, 132.
Individuals: 1. Devon Grisbaum, Ocean City, 18:00; 2. Alyssa Aldridge, Mainland, 18:48; 3. Abby Gauthier, Lacey, 19:10; 4. Alexsus Vuocolo, Toms River South, 19:15; 5. Genevieve Cickavage, Moorestown, 19:17; 6. Sydny Warner, Seneca, 19:21; 7. Alyssa Condell, Timber Creek, 19:27.13; 8. Katie Rauscher, Delsea, 19:27.52; 9. Joey Webb, Seneca, 19:42; 10. Tara Thorton, Moorestown, 19:43.
Teams: 1. Shawnee, 52; 2. Clearview, 81; 3. Toms River North, 98; 4. Southern, 121; 5. Jackson, 144.
Individuals: 1. Nina Bendixen, Shawnee, 18:45; 2. Julia Rothstein, Clearview, 18:58.52; 3. Kaitlyn Mooney, Southern, 18:58.75; 4. Caitlin O’Brien, Jackson, 18:59; 5. Morgan Arena, Shawnee, 19:02; 6. Kaitlin Donahue; Clearview, 19:03; 7. Monica Lee, Cherry Hill East, 19:12; 8. Destiny Stanford, Kingsway, 19:19; 9. Rachel Vick, Kingsway, 19:28; 10. Kara Bonner, Shawnee, 19:32.
With the high school cross country sectional championships to be held on Saturday at Delsea, let's take a look at what happened last year and the predictions for this year.
The top five teams and top 10 individuals move on to the state meet next weekend at Holmdel.
TEAMS: Schalick, Audubon, Cape May County Tech, Cinnaminson, Clayton, Collingswood, Glassboro, Gloucester, Haddon Heights, Haddon Twp, Lindenwold, Maple Shade, Overbrook, Paulsboro, Penns Grove, Pennsville, Pitman, Salem, Wildwood, and Woodstown.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR: Pitman’s Kiersten Lapp stole the top spot with a time of 19:28, with teammate Sarah Meighan coming in second at 19:44.
Last year, Pitman stole the show and went on to win the Group I State Championship title. Pennsville came in second last year followed by Haddon Twp., Overbrook and Maple Shade.
Alicia Pipkin (Haddon Twp.) came in third last year, followed by Annika Merkh (Haddon Twp.), Hannah Vendetta (Pitman), Alyssa Sanders (Pitman), Emily Acton (Pennsville), Julia Viola (Pitman), Elise Davenport (Salem) and Olivia Gerstenbacher (Schalick) to round out the top 10 and advance to Holmdel.
NEED TO KNOW INFO: Pitman has won the last two titles and six since 2005. Four of the runners who advanced individually to the state meet last year have graduated.
This year Cinnaminson has been running very well, as the Pirates beat the Panthers at the South Jersey Open 62-67.
PREDICTIONS: Look for Cinnaminson freshman Haley Adams and Haddon Township Nora Grimm to battle for the top spot. At the Open, Grimm edged Adams by five seconds. But don’t be surprised to see Pitman’s Hannah Vendetta right up there with the two, as well as Woodstown’s Isabel Gallatig. Predictions for the top five teams are: 1. Cinnaminson, 2. Haddon Twp., 3. Pitman, 4. Woodstown, 5. Pennsville.
TEAMS: ACIT, Barnegat, Bridgeton, Buena, BCIT-Medford, Camden, Penn Tech, Cedar Creek, Delran, Deptford, Gateway/Woodbury, Haddonfield, Lower Cape May Regional, Manchester Twp., Middle Twp., Pemberton, Pinelands, Sterling, West Deptford.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR: Haddonfield's Briana Gess, who wowed the cross country world as a freshman last year, not only dominating the sectionals, but also the state meet and Meet of Champions.
Gess, who won the Group II Sectional title by almost a full minute over second-place finisher Lauren Zodl of Pinelands, came in at 18:04.37. This year, Gess should shave five-10 seconds off her time. All but two of the top 10 were underclassmen, so they should all be contending for spots once again.
Buena came in at a distant second, followed by Pinelands, Deptford and Cedar Creek.
The rest of the top 10 finishers were: Kristin Siegle (Buena), Meg Schroeter (Haddonfield), Lauren DeCoursey (Haddonfield), Lauren Lynch (Haddonfield), Alexa Gostovich (Haddonfield), Emily Daiutulo (Sterling), Lisa Testa (Buena), and Gillian Schriever (Pinelands).
NEED TO KNOW INFO: Gess has won all but two major meets in here career, taking fifth at Foot Locker Northeast Regional and 13th at Foot Locker Nationals last year. Look for her to continue her dominance.
There has been 12 girls in state history to win the individual sectional title four times. Of the 12, three are from Haddonfield: Erin Donohue (97-00), Vanessa Wright (02-06), and Marielle Hall (06-09). With one title under her belt and possibly a second on Saturday, could Gess become the fourth from Haddonfield?
Haddonfield has also won the last 12 individual sectional team titles.
PREDICTIONS: It won’t be a surprise to see both Haddonfield and Gess take the top spots. Coming in behind the Bulldawgs will be 2. Buena, 3. Pinelands, 4. Deptford, 5. Lower Cape May.
TEAMS:CCVTS, Central, Cherry Hill West, Cumberland, Delsea, GCIT, Hammonton, Highland, Lacey Twp., Mainland, Moorestown, Oakcrest, Ocean City, Seneca, Timber Creek, Toms River South, Triton, Winslow, Woodrow Wilson.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR: Ocean City’s Bridget Flynn took the top spot over Seneca’s Mara Schiffhauer. Current Ocean City senior Epiphany (Devon) Grisbaum came in third followed by Seneca’s Joey Webb. Moorestown’s Genevieve Cickavage came in seventh.
Ocean City edged Seneca 40-50, with Moorestown, Delsea and Lacey coming in third, fourth and fifth.
The rest of the top 10 finishers last year were Abby Gauthier (Lacey Twp.) in fifth, Celine Mazzi (Delsea) in sixth, Sade Lavallis (Timber Creek) in eight, Stephanie Flemming (Seneca) in ninth, and Rachel Stremme (Ocean City) in 10th.
NEED TO KNOW INFO: It will be a battle, plain and simple. Not only for the individual, but for the team title as well.
In the Cape Atlantic League Championships, Grisbaum and Mainland freshman Alyssa Aldridge battled it out for first, with Grisbaum coming in first. But now, Cickavage and Webb will be added to the mix. Look for the race to come down to the last stretch.
PREDICTION: Grisbaum edges out Aldridge and helps Ocean City to defend its’ title with Seneca coming in a very close second followed by Moorestown right behind in third. Delsea and Mainland will battle for fourth and fifth.
For the individual title, watch Cickavage and Webb have a very close battle with Aldridge and Grisbaum for the top four spots.
TEAMS:Absegami, Atlantic City, Cherokee, Cherry Hill East, Clearview, Eastern, Egg Harbor Twp., Jackson Memorial, Kingsway, Lenape, Millville, Rancocas Valley, Shawnee, Southern, Toms River East, Toms River North, Vineland, Washington Twp., Williamstown.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR: Vickie Ajimoko (Williamstown) stole the show, taking the title almost 20 seconds ahead of Camille Franklin (Lenape). Shawnee’s Nina Bendixen came in fourth with teammate Kara Bonner came in 12th. Kingsway’s Rachel Vick came in 15th.
The top 10 consisted of Hannah Leskow (Toms River North) in third, Kaitlyn Mooney (Southern) in fifth, Maddy Berman (Cherry Hill East) in sixth, Lexie Taylor (Washington Twp.) in seventh, Julia Despirito (Shawnee) in eighth, Morgan Arena (Shawnee) in ninth, and Victoria Thaler (Millville) in 10th.
NEED TO KNOW INFO: This will be the best girls race of the day. There will be a vast improvement by Vick and she will battle it out with Bendixen for the top spot.
The last time that Shawnee and Clearview met, it was for the South Jersey Open title, with Shawnee defeating the Pioneers on the sixth man tiebreaker.
PREDICTION: It will be another close race between the Pioneers and the Renegades, but Shawnee should take it again. Kingsway, Toms River North and Southern will also advance to states.
Vick, Bendixen and Mooney will provide an exciting race up front, but don’t forget about Bonner, Jackson's Caitlin O'Brien, and Clearview’s Kaitlin Donahue and Emily Schaffer, who should finish near the top.
Follow @ZachBatesSJSD on Twitter for updates all day from Delsea for both the boys and girls races.
Zach Bates is the cross country and volleyball beat writer for the South Jersey Sports Digest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ZachBatesSJSD