2023 Shore Sports Network Girls Volleyball Co-Seniors of the Year: Molly Regulski & Shantel Starling
Molly Regulski, Southern Regional
The decision for Senior of the Year was unlike any race we've seen throughout the volleyball season. With 37 different programs and a plethora of remarkable seniors across the shore, it made this decision the toughest.
Southern Regional has created a dynasty on the court under Coach Maxwell, dominating the conference year in and out. This season, the Rams knew that their window for overbearing dominance was short and had to make the most of the season day in and out.
As the Rams looked to ultimately prove that they were the best team not only in the conference but in the state, senior Molly Regulski came back to the court ready to make the most of all matches.
To put into perspective on how much of a force Regulski was for the program, there wasn't one match throughout 2023 that saw single-digit assist totals. Regulski opened up the first three matches with 17, 16 and 19 assists in three two-set victories. The dominance only continued, posting up ridiculous numbers and leading the Rams to a 13-0 regular season start.
After the Rams lost their first regular season match, Regulski came back and had 20+ assists in six straight matches, starting up a brand new winning streak. The Rams second and final loss of the season came on the road against one of the state's best in Princeton. Over a three-set thriller, Regulski found herself with 31 assists.
As mentioned above, losing wasn't in the vocabulary for the Rams throughout the rest of 2023. The Rams went through the Shore Conference Tournament without dropping a set and hoisting the title for the second consecutive season. In the finals against Donovan Catholic, Regulski posted 21 assists in the two-set victory.
South Jersey Group 4 kicked off, as this was on the minds of all of Southern. In the Rams opening round match against Toms River North, Regulski ended with 21 assists. Moving onto the quarterfinals, Regulski didn't take her foot off the gas and contributed with 18 assists against Cherokee. The dominance only continued into the sectional semifinals, leading the way with 19 assists in the two-set victory over Lenape.
The Rams found themselves against rival Williamstown, looking to win the sectional title. Regulski put her body on the line, making ridiculous assists look easy. Regulski also pulled out every possible play in the book on serve, leading with 12 service points. When things looked bleak for the Rams, Regulski stepped up as the leader she is. The Rams were able to overcome multiple deficits in the final set, winning the South Jersey Group 4 sectional title. Regulski ended with 23 assists in the win, lifting the trophy for all to see.
The dominance continued on for the group semifinals. As the Rams found themselves with their backs against the walls, Regulski and company came back from a set down to take down Monroe, advancing to the Group 4 finals. Regulski ended with 28 assists, 12 digs and 10 service points.
Morristown's undefeated season was the only thing keeping Southern from winning their first group title in 15 years. Regulski stepped up and made Southern look like the undefeated team coming into the match, dominating for a two-set victory. In the finals, Regulski once again led by example and ended with 27 assists, hoisting the group title for all to see.
Shantel Starling, Donovan Catholic
Donovan Catholic has become one of the more prolific programs across the conference for girls volleyball under Coach Jansen. The Griffins were another team inside the shore that had a lot of talent returning with a window to make the most of it.
Senior outside hitter Shantel Starling returned to the scene and looked to make the most of her final season with the program.
Starling opened up her 2023 campaign with 12 kills, 6 digs and 2 blocks in a two-set victory over Colts Neck, not only showing how deep the program was but showing that this program meant business all season long.
Starling continued her electric campaign early on, leading with 43 kills in the Griffins first five matches. One of the biggest matches of the year came against Union Catholic where Starling led with 16 kills and 8 digs, moving the Griffins to 6-0.
The Griffins ended up being the last undefeated team inside the Shore Conference, extending their winning streak all the way to 15 before being taken down by Monroe Township.
In their next matchup, the Griffins took on Barnegat and looked to establish themselves as the front-runner for the B South. Starling, as she did so many times throughout 2023, dominated on the court with 14 kills and 7 digs in the two-set victory. The Griffins were able to clinch the division outright, another banner to be hung in the louvre mainly because of Starling's performances.
Inside the Shore Conference Tournament, the Griffins knew that Starling and company would need to keep doing what they've been doing all season long in order to have a chance. Starling led a dominating performance over Pinelands in the quarterfinals, leading with 12 kills and 7 digs. As the Griffins entered the semifinals against St. John Vianney, Starling got back on the court with a vision into the finals. Starling had 9 kills and 9 digs, helping propel the Griffins to a two-set victory. While the finals ended with defeat to Southern, the stellar performances by Starling didn't stop. Starling saw herself with another 9 kills and 9 digs, helping to keep the Griffins alive in the entire match.
A new season approached with state sectional tournaments taking off and the Griffins knew they had one final chance to restart their season and finish with an exclamation point. In the opening round against Mount St. Dominic, Starling found herself with 7 kills and 4 digs, leading the Griffins to a two-set victory.
In the quarterfinals against Notre Dame, the Griffins had to battle through three sets to ultimately put themselves across the finish line. Starling was the x-factor of the match, leading with an astonishing 19 kills and 16 digs. Inside the semifinals against Paul VI, Starling did everything she could to help the Griffins out. With 14 kills and 12 digs, Starling cemented herself as one of the conferences best and arguably the best player to walk the halls of Donovan Catholic.
Both Molly Regulski and Shantel Starling put the programs on their backs all 2023. If not for their remarkable talents on the court, both Donovan Catholic and Southern Regional wouldn't have had the successes that the season brought to them. Both Regulski and Starling earned this accolade, achieving 2023 Shore Sports Network Girls Volleyball Co-Senior of the Year.