Girls Volleyball- Southern Stays Strong At the Top of the Shore 16 Heading Into SCT Time
Last week, there were many unknowns that needed to be answered. Who would end up on top in each division? Would Southern be able to hold the number one spot against Donovan Catholic? How many more teams can get above the .500 threshold?
As the Shore Conference Tournament will begin later in the week, seeding is set to take place as soon as all games are wrapped up this evening. 17 teams have clinched a spot into the tournament with three others fighting for a spot, trying to get to or stay above .500.
The new week unfolds and much more drama is to come, starting with the new edition of the Shore 16.
1) Southern Regional (20-1, 13-0) Last Week: 1
The Rams proved to the entire conference last Monday that the number one spot is theirs for the long haul. The Rams were able to take down No. 2 Donovan Catholic in straight sets, continuing one of the most dominant stretches in recent shore history. The program will take up Princeton and Paul VI later this week, only adding to their already loaded résumé.
2) Donovan Catholic (22-2, 12-0) Last Week: 2
Donovan comes back this week with the two slot locked down. Though they did not find a way to beat No. 1 Southern last week, that was not without putting up a fight. In what very well could have been a preview of the SCT final, the Griffins will take their lessons from that match as a perfect launching point into the SCT and can truly give the Rams a run for their money. Donovan Catholic has been tested all season long and have addressed any situation as any perennial team would; with utter dominance. It's time for the Griffins to rest up and stay the course heading into tournament time.
3) St. John Vianney (16-4, 12-0) Last Week: 3
The Lancers took care of business and officially clinched Class B North last week, winning the division with a perfect 12-0 record. The Lancers are currently riding a six-game winning streak and will finish their regular season with a matchup against the resurrected St. Rose Purple Roses. Freshman Ayana Warren has turned into one of the states' greats in girls volleyball, leading the team with an astounding 384 assists. With matchups against both Southern and Donovan Catholic earlier this year, there's a great sense of promise leading up to the SCT for the Lancers.
4) Howell (15-2, 12-0) Last Week: 4
As the drama unfolded at Howell last Monday against No. 6 Middletown South, the Rebels needed to dig deep and find their groove late. Being down a set and facing a potential share of the division, the Rebels found a way to win back-to-back sets and claim their first division title since 2019. On top of that, the Rebels ended with a perfect record in their division for the Class A North title. Howell has not had their backs to the wall many times in 2023, but when they have, they've certainly found a way to fulfill the task at hand.
5) Barnegat (15-3, 8-3) Last Week: 5
The Bengals swept the week, going 3-0 and taking down No. 7 Jackson Liberty in straight sets. It's been a strong year for this program under first year head coach Emily Dancisin. The team has depth, ranging from sophomores to seniors who all see significant playing time. There's a strong chemistry within the program. The Bengals will wrap the regular season up with Atlantic Tech and Lakewood, getting ready for a potential top-five seed in the SCT.
6) Middletown South (12-4, 10-2) Last Week: 6
While the magical season that Middletown South is having couldn't produce a divisional title, the season continued to produce wins against high-quality opponents. After losing a heartbreaker over No. 4 Howell, the Eagles regrouped and took down Colts Neck and No. 16 Marlboro to finish up the week. With the regular season wrapped up, there's zero reason why this program won't go on a run throughout the shore and the state especially with the heart and passion this team exemplifies around their leader Karolyna Bojko.
7) Jackson Liberty (12-4, 8-3) Last Week: 7
A long four-game week unfolded for the Lions, coming away with wins over Jackson Memorial, Lacey and Lakewood, all in consecutive sets. The Lions have another busy week, taking on Middletown North, No. 12 Pinelands and Red Bank Regional. The three-headed monster of Stella Harzola, Olivia Luhn and Steph Ramos can take this team to new heights.
8) Brick Memorial (12-6, 9-4) Last Week: 12
The Mustangs take a leap in the rankings after going 3-2 in a grueling schedule. The Mustangs were able to come away with wins against No. 14 Central Regional, Jackson Memorial and Toms River North in three sets while finding themselves on the side of defeat after losing to No. 2 Donovan Catholic and Marlboro. The quality of opponent continues to help the Mustangs case for SCT seeding and will find themselves against Toms River South to begin their week.
9) Red Bank Catholic (12-7, 8-4) Last Week: 8
As the Caseys looked to make a potential leap, they found themselves scheduled with tall tasks in a loaded week. The Caseys dropped some matches to rising No. 13 Point Beach as well as No. 11 Rumson-Fair Haven. They did accumulate some wins by defeating Holmdel and No. 10 Raritan in straight sets. There's a lot of talent that roams throughout this program, but question marks will rise. Can they piece together a run? Can they carry over momentum from victories to their next game? How far can the Caseys go when the heads go down and all energy is transpired on the court?
10) Raritan (11-5, 7-5) Last Week: 10
The Rockets are below No. 9 Red Bank Catholic for head-to-head purposes while being above No. 11 Rumson-Fair Haven for the same reason. Raritan was able showcase a strong victory over the Bulldogs, but were unable to split the season series with the Caseys. Raritan did what they needed to do against Red Bank Regional and Wall. The Rockets also did themselves a favor by scheduling a matchup against No. 4 Howell, a strong non-divisional match that will only better both teams heading into the home stretch of 2023.
11) Rumson-Fair Haven (9-7, 6-6) Last Week: 11
The week looked to have the Bulldogs jolt themselves within the top 10 after beating No. 9 Red Bank Catholic in straight sets. The Bulldogs were shocked by Red Bank Regional, losing in three sets followed by a tough two-set loss to No. 3 St. John Vianney. The Bulldogs have shown resiliency all season long after a tough 0-3 start and a strong schedule. If the chemistry can shine like it has from time-to-time throughout the season, this will be a scary program to face down the stretch.
12) Pinelands (11-8, 6-5) Last Week: 9
After a tough matchup against Washington Township, one of the top programs in the state, the Wildcats went on the road and were surprised by Lacey in two sets. The week was a shorter one with only two matches, but were given the opportunity to come across No. 2 Donovan Catholic, being handled in consecutive sets. The Wildcats will have No. 7 Jackson Liberty to start the week and will face No. 4 Howell as well, which will only be beneficial to the program in a crucial period of time.
13) Point Beach (11-7, 7-2) Last Week: 15
Class B Central has been looking for a consistent figure to stay afloat the Shore 16 and the division has certainly found it in the Garnet Gulls. Wins over Keyport, No. 9 Red Bank Catholic and No. 16 Marlboro have the program in a groove. B-Central has been clinched by the Garnet Gulls even with another divisional matchup against Manasquan. They'll also have a matchup against Red Bank Regional, a match that needs to be taken with strong recognition in order to not be upset.
14) Central Regional (9-7, 7-6) Last Week: 14
While the Golden Eagles were able to take down the likes of Brick Township and Jackson Memorial, they were defeated in three sets by No. 8 Brick Memorial. As the program gets set to go on a run across the conference in late October, nobody should take the Golden Eagles lightly. With Junior Kate O'Blek leading the way, there's no telling how far this program can go, given the right matchups and opponents throughout.
15) Toms River North (7-6, 7-6) Last Week: N/R
After starting off the season 3-5, the Mariners have quietly been one of the hotter teams across the shore. Wins over Brick Township, No. 8 Brick Memorial, Toms River East and Toms River South catapulted the program from a watchful eye to inside the rankings. While the Mariners were unable to fulfill a sweep over the Mustangs, they took the program to three sets. They'll be given the task of No. 14 Central Regional before tournament time kicks off.
16) Marlboro (9-7. 6-5) Last Week: 16
Last week's calendar was loaded for the Mustangs, finding themselves with wins over No. 8 Brick Memorial and Trinity Hall while also losing to No. 4 Howell and No. 6 Middletown South. The schedule all season long has been a juggernaut, finding themselves in the thick of A-North as well as strong non-divisional matches. It doesn't seem as if the Mustangs have found their full form yet, which could be a posing problem for other teams that come their way late in the season.
Toms River East (9-9)
Keep an Eye On:
St. Rose (8-7)