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.
VOORHEES – The Eastern Regional High School boys’ volleyball team gave itself a nice confidence boost on Saturday.
Both the Vikings and Old Bridge were undefeated heading into the championship game of the 19th annual Eastern Invitational Volleyball Tournament, but Eastern used a couple of nice runs midway through the match to turn what figured to be a tight contest into a comfortable victory.
The Vikings defeated Old Bridge, 25-15, to capture their own tournament for the third time. They had also won in 2005 and 2012.
After the game, Eastern Coach Tom Armour and several of his players talked about how the win would help the team moving forward.
“This will really help their confidence,” Armour said. “The competition was stiff but they did really well. They played well together and they were excited when they were playing.
“Against Pennsauken they played methodical. At practice it’s like it’s a joy for them to be here. Then against Cherry Hill East I told them they have to play with ambience. They need to be shouting and cheering when they do things well. Today they did that.”
Wade Comer, who had three kills, one block and two assists in the title game, echoed his coach’s assessment.
“I think this was really good for our confidence because we are going to see a lot of these teams during the regular season,” Comer said. “We played with a little extra determination today.”
Both Eastern and Old Bridge won all eight of their games during pool play. The Warriors defeated the Eastern jayvees, 25-12, and Eastern defeated St. John Vianney, 25-19, in the semifinals.
In the championship Eastern took a 4-3 lead early. At 10-7, the Vikings scored four straight points to go up 14-7. Sonni Vaishnani had a kill and Comer a block for a point during the run.
But Old Bridge hung around drawing to within four at one point. At 17-12 Eastern went on another four-point run to take a commanding 21-12 lead. Comer had a kill and Billy Fisher had two during that run.
“Wade Comer was very solid today,” Armour said. “Billy Fisher is very demonstrative the way he kills and blocks. It’s downright scary sometimes. And Joe Kerr keeps everybody in the match. His sets are unbelievably good.”
Fisher finished with five kills and Kerr had eight assists. Vaishnani contributed one kill, one block and one assist. Ari Golvovski had three assists and one ace, Johnny Shamir had a block and a kill and Tyler Cavorocchi had a kill for the balanced Vikings who played very unselfishly.
“I thought we played amazing today," said Kerr. “We didn’t make too many silly mistakes which was good.”
Comer got the last two points for the Vikings, who are 2-0 in the regular season, which set off the final celebration of a long day on the court.
“We had a lot of chemistry out there today,” said Fisher. “We were able to shake off any bad plays. We kept our heads up and didn’t worry about the lost point. It was always on to the next one.”
Charlie Sprang is a reporter for South Jersey Sports Digest. For comments or story ideas, reach Charlie at email@example.com.