Girls Volleyball- No. 1 Tightening Up While Others Look to Emerge in Shore 16 Rankings
It's bewildering to think that less than four weeks ago, the volleyball season was just getting started. Now, teams are fighting for divisional titles, looking to float above .500 to clinch a potential spot into the Shore Conference Tournament.
There's been a race for No. 1 and 2 all season long and that race doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon. Other programs are on winning streaks with no end in sight while ensuring that top competition is on their schedule to get prepared for states.
Some slights adjustments have been made in this week's Shore 16, but not many significant changes have occurred due to the consistency of most teams throughout. With perennial matches scheduled the next seven days, there's bound to be an influx of changes throughout the conference. Time will tell as we break down this weeks Shore 16.
1) Southern Regional (13-1, 8-0) Last Week: 1
The first blemish in the loss column took place over the weekend at Immaculate Heart. While Southern was taken down by the NJ.com No. 2 team in back-to-back sets, this matchup was a major preparation for the end of October. Coach Maxwell knew exactly what was being set up when taking on this program. We're less than a week away for the ultimate matchup between the Rams and No. 2 Donovan Catholic, a match that may end up deciding this ranking for the remainder of the season.
2) Donovan Catholic (15-1, 7-0) Last Week: 2
The Griffins were the last undefeated team standing before losing back-to-back sets to state-ranked Monroe. A strong run with wins over No. 3 St John Vianney, No. 7 Red Bank Catholic and No. 10 Jackson Liberty will keep the Griffins in the second spot throughout. It'll be a relatively quiet week for the Griffins as they take on No. 5 Barnegat and finish up the week with Lakewood. Everybody has October 9th scheduled on the calendar as the Griffins will take on No. 1 Southern at home.
3) St. John Vianney (11-4, 7-0) Last Week: 3
Vianney had themselves a long back-half of the week, playing in five matches in three days. The Lancers took down No. 6 Raritan and No. 14 Rumson-Fair Haven in back-to-back sets, giving them a full two-game lead in the B-North. In a weekend quad match, the Lancers fell victim to No. 2 Donovan Catholic and Monroe Township. The Lancers will be at No. 9 Red Bank Catholic to begin the week, looking to further solidify the B-North.
4) Howell (9-1, 8-0) Last Week: 4
Howell has been in six matches against either currently ranked or previously ranked Shore 16 teams. The Rebels are 5-1 in those matchups with No. 2 Donovan Catholic being their only loss of the year. Howell is in an intense divisional battle with No. 5 Middletown South, only leading by one game. Both teams will be ready to face each other on the 9th, which may end up deciding the overall reward of the A-North.
5) Middletown South (8-2, 6-1) Last Week: 7
One of the conferences hottest teams is living large out in Middletown, as Coach Thorne is currently cultivating potentially the best season in school history. The Eagles were able to fight against No. 8 Marlboro and No. 7 Red Bank Catholic in three sets before finishing out with a two-set victory over Long Branch. Karolyna Bojko has been the MVP for South, as she continuously makes the team better. The team right above them in the rankings will be patiently waiting for their matchup next week.
6) Barnegat (11-2, 5-2) Last Week: 5
All was looking strong for the Bengals to have a perfect week before a road trip to No. 13 Pinelands. While Barnegat fell victim, the Bengals remained the course with a four-win week with a win over No. 15 Toms River East. Sophomores Brooke Degrazio and Annabella Fraim continue to pave the ground for the future, having monster seasons on all ends. While the parochial side of the division may be wrapped up, the public side in the B-South is Barnegat's to lose.
7) Red Bank Catholic (8-4, 6-2) Last Week: 9
The Caseys had a strong test to start last week off against No. 2 Donovan Catholic, showing heart in both sets. A three game winning streak with a convincing win over No. 7 Raritan has the program trending in the upwards direction. They'll start off with St. Rose before taking on No. 3 St. John Vianney later in the week. While the B-North has taken different shape over the last week, there's no reason why the Caseys won't continue to make noise.
8) Brick Memorial (8-2, 5-2) Last Week: 11
The Mustangs seem to not know how to lose, carrying the longest winning streak at six games throughout the Shore. While five of those six wins have come in three sets, the resilience continues to run across the Brick Memorial roster. Coach Trembulak earned his 100th career win last week. The Mustangs will look to improve upon their winning streak, starting with Toms River East.
9) Raritan (7-3, 4-3) Last Week: 6
Last week was a challenging one for the Rockets, having to face No. 3 Vianney and No. 7 Red Bank Catholic. Raritan brought RBC to three sets before falling to the Caseys. The Rockets were able to take a mid-week match in two sets over Jackson Memorial. Another large week ahead for the Rockets, as wins over Freehold Borough and No. 11 Rumson-Fair Haven could have Raritan flying back up in the rankings.
10) Jackson Liberty (7-3, 4-3) Last Week: 10
While the Lions were taken down by No. 2 Donovan Catholic to conclude the week, that doesn't take away the results prior throughout. Wins over Colts Neck and No. 12 Pinelands really got the Lions rolling. They're at the top of their section for power points and look to continue that trend. There's a massive opportunity for a large amount of power points as the Lions take on No. 5 Middletown South on Wednesday.
11) Rumson Fair-Haven (7-4, 4-3) Last Week: 14
Last week, Rumson was finding their groove and sneaking back into the rankings. The Bulldogs continued to play as one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning six of their last seven. They'll have tests against No. 7 Red Bank Catholic and No. 9 Raritan later this week, meaning that the opportunity for a continuing rise is right on the table.
12) Pinelands (9-5, 4-3) Last Week: 13
The Wildcats had a tough task against No. 10 Jackson Liberty to begin last week, losing in three sets. After that, they ended strong winning three straight matches. One of those wins came over No. 6 Barnegat, getting revenge for their opening day loss to the Bengals. The Wildcats will have a massive matchup against state-ranked Washington Township, getting the program prepared for a potential tournament run.
13) Marlboro (6-3, 5-2) Last Week: 8
The Mustangs slip in the rankings due to the amount of games that have been played over the last 10 days. The Mustangs have a three-game week upcoming, starting with Colts Neck first. Marlboro must take care of business against their competition in any aspect, getting the Mustangs galloping higher in the rankings.
14) Central Regional (7-4, 5-3) Last Week: 12
Out of all of the teams in the Shore 16, Central Regional may be the one that truly hasn't hit their stride and gone off on a torrent. That being said, the Golden Eagles are three games above .500 and continue to play right with all of their competition. A big week starts at Toms River South before concluding at home against No. 16 Toms River East.
15) Keyport (6-4, 4-2) Last Week: NR
The battle for the B-Central continues to be a hot commodity, with four teams all within one game of each other. The Red Raiders had a strong three-win week, taking down all scheduled opponents in strong fashion. This week will be a major factor on whether or not Keyport will hoist the divisional title, on the road against Long Branch, Manasquan and St. Rose.
16) Toms River East (6-5, 5-2) Last Week: 15
After losing in two sets to No. 6 Barnegat, East was able to conclude their week with wins over Manchester and Toms River South. While aspirations for a strong season continue to unfold for the Raiders, they must have a strong week starting at No. 8 Brick Memorial.
Freehold Boro (5-7)
Keep An Eye On:
Point Beach (5-5)
Toms River North (3-4)