The first Saturday of the boys high school volleyball season has always been a huge tournament day. This year is no different with at least five tournaments around the state including ones here in South Jersey at Eastern and Moorestown High Schools.
Eastern, which is hosting the Eastern Invitational for the 19th straight year, has more of a statewide representation. In addition to the Vikings, who will field two teams, Williamstown and Washington Township will represent South Jersey and will be joined by Wayne Hills, Livingston, St. John Vianney, Manchester Twp., Old Bridge and Bayonne. Williamstown, Livingston, Old Bridge and Bayonne all finished 2013 ranked in the Nj.com Top 20.
Pool play begins at 8:30. Washington Township, Wayne Hills, Manchester Twp., Bayonne and one of the two Eastern squads will make up the White Division. The Blue Division will have Williamstown, Livingston, St. John Vianney, Old Bridge and the second Eastern entry. The top three teams in each group will advance to the playoffs. Livingston defeated Williamstown to win last year’s tournament.
Eastern coach Tom Armour said both his teams will be competitive but he acknowledged he’s keeping his top group together. They are seniors Bill Fisher, Wade Coomer, Joe Kerr, Ari Goldodski and Sonny Vaishnani, junior Tyler Cadrocchi and promising sophomore Johnny Schamer.
As is their custom, the Vikings, who opened the season on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Pennsauken, traveled near and far this preseason for scrimmage matches.
“I think we won all but three games against Hillsborough,” said Armour whose team scrimmaged Pennsauken, Clearview, Kingsway and Paul VI in addition to a number of traditionally strong North Jersey teams.
With a strong field assembled for Saturday, the Vikings should have a decent idea where they stand heading into the season.
Meanwhile the Moorestown tournament will have a decided South Jersey flavor. Twenty teams, divided into five groups of four teams, will begin pool play at 8 a.m. Saturday.
After the first round of pool play, the groups will be scrambled and there will be a second round of pool play. Following the second round of pool play, the teams will be seeded and the top 16 teams will begin a double elimination tournament with teams 1-8 in the Gold Pool and 9-16 in the Black Pool. Champions will be crowned in each pool.
Moorestown coach Scott Atkinson said his Quakers will be young but experienced this year.
“We’ve picked up some experience,” Atkinson said. “A lot more guys played club (volleyball). We scrimmaged Southern Regional and I think we lost both games by six or seven points, but I figure if we can hang with them we should do pretty good down here. We have a pretty good schedule.”
The Quakers will start senior outside hitters Jeff Nelson and Blake Iepson and two players off the Quakers football team, senior Shane Lawless (linebacker/tight end) and sophomore Mike DiMarino (quarterback), are the middle hitters. A pair of juniors, John DiLorenzo and Bob Doglian, are good, tough hitters and Johnny McGinley is the libero.
They’ll see plenty of action on Saturday as the Quakers finish their preparations for the season ahead.