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MANAHAWKIN – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905. This famous phrase seems to be a standard operation within the Southern Regional Girls Volleyball program who went on to win the South Jersey Group IV sectional finals on Tuesday November 7th against Williamstown.

“I don’t think we would have wanted it any other way, last year knowing that we were 31-1, I think we needed the two losses on the season to make us realize that there’s teams that are gunning out for us” said Jordyn Hamlin when asked about Williamstown being their one loss in 2022. “We need the losses to be exposed so we can work on what we need to improve on, and we did just that” remarked All Shore Setter Molly Regulski.

The Rams entered the night at a clip of 29-2, only losing six total sets (including the losses) all season. This is not only one of the most talented rosters in New Jersey, this team has the fire power to compete on a national level. 

In the first set, it was a true back and forth affair between the Braves and the Rams where Southern pulled away in the end needing the 26th point to secure the set. Dajah Williams, the Braves star Outside Hitter proved to be the biggest challenge all night, but Libero Emily Brunatti was relentless making digs that seemed nearly impossible for anyone to manage.

The second set was more of the same defensive struggle for both teams where either team truly could have emerged victorious. The Braves clicked more than they did in the first set and beat the Rams 25-20. Williamstown managed to gain momentum off of a few key blocks and pulled away forcing the third set, something the Rams have not had to deal with much all season including their first visit to Williamstown where they beat the Braves in two.

This momentum carried into the final set, and combined with a questionable call, the Rams found themselves down 8-2 with Coach Eric Maxwell having to burn his second timeout to regroup. “I used both timeouts that early…I said I’m not saving it, I can’t save it.” Coach Maxwell told Shore Sports Network in a post game interview. To his team he said “We’re not going down easy guys.” We looked up at the scoreboard and I said “They still have to get 17 points, I don’t think that ball is going to hit the floor on this side 17 more times.”

Molly Regulski, the star setter for the Rams has a delivery from the servers position that saw her record seven aces in the match. But, aces are only one piece…it’s her ball placement that is difficult for any team to manage. Just getting the ball back over the net seems to be a challenge which gives the Rams an opportunity for perfect setups to the likes of Jordyn Hamlin, Jess Smart, Sarah Capone and Bryn Hagen. 

A few key runs with Regulski, Hamlin and Lili Davis in the servers position combined with incredible defense and the Rams fought back even. The athlete IQ of the Southern Rams across the board saw the adjustments and tweaks happen in perfect unison to cause confusion for the Braves of where the Rams would strike next. In the end it was Davis’ serving that became too much for Williamstown to handle and Southern pulled away with a 25-21 set three sending them to the state semifinals versus Monroe.

The celebration after the set point was subtle and brief. As remarked by Hamlin, Regulski and Maxwell, there is a lot more volleyball to be played. It was an exciting moment to be proud of, but the Rams were ready to hit the practice court and film studies to be ready for Thursday’s matchup.

Stay tuned for a live stream of Southern Regional vs Monroe in the Group IV State Semi Finals on Thursday November 9th.

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