Girls Volleyball- Top Remains in Tact with Changes Throughout the Shore 16
State tournaments have unfolded and the action across the shore has taken place. There's been teams that have been written off that have reset their season. There's been matchups where seeding hasn't mattered and one side looks completely overpowering.
Teams like Southern Regional have shaped up their sectional brackets, overpowering their competition and heading into the semifinals. Teams like Donovan Catholic and St. John Vianney look to continue their electric seasons with opening round matchups in their non-public bracket.
While there's been plenty of action that's taken place over the last week, there isn't too much change at the top of the rankings. You'll see more of a "shake-up" towards the middle and the bottom-half of the Shore 16. With that being said, let's dive into the rankings and see where teams across the shore line up.
1) Southern Regional (28-2, 14-0) Last Week: 1
At the current moment, the Rams seem to be unbeatable not just across the Shore Conference but across the entire state. After handing Toms River North over straight sets in the opening round, the Rams were given the challenge of No. 9 Cherokee in the quarterfinals. Cherokee, who overmatched Howell in all aspects on the court, proved to be not much of the challenge for the Rams as Southern defeated the program in back-to-back sets. It looks like a rematch against No. 2 Williamstown is inevitable for the championship, but they'll have to get through No. 5 Lenape first.
2) Donovan Catholic (25-3, 13-0) Last Week: 2
The Griffins have been playing sound volleyball all season long, being one of the best teams across New Jersey in all aspects of the game. There's been a little bit of down-time for the Griffins, as they haven't played since 10/23 in the Shore Conference Tournament finals. The Griffins will open up with No. 15 Mount St. Dominic at home, looking to take over and dominate on the court once again. In a loaded bracket where Immaculate Heart and Paul VI are bound to matchup against your program, it'll be a tall task for the Griffins. With the way they've played all season, anything is possible.
3) St. John Vianney (19-5, 12-0) Last Week: 3
The Gadaleta's have done a fantastic job with the Lady Lancers all season long, putting the program in a strong position heading into states. With a team that's built around winning today and preparing for the future, the talent is there for the Lady Lancers to go on a deep run. Just like Donovan Catholic, the Lancers are in the loaded bracket of Non-Public Group A where they'll have opponents like Paul VI to prepare for. Their first task though is a third matchup against No. 12 Red Bank Catholic, a divisional rival that the Lady Lancers have taken down twice already.
4) Barnegat (19-4, 9-3) Last Week: 4
All season long, the Bengals have played their top game and have always looked in their form. Their only losses come against Donovan Catholic (x2), Pinelands and Southern Regional, all highly respected opponents. The Bengals were awarded the No. 1 seed in South Jersey Group 2 which ultimately led to a first-round bye. The Bengals are set up for a run and could end up facing No. 3 Jackson Liberty in the sectional finals if trajectory shapes up. The Bengals will have to stay focused and will have to continue their dominance that they've shown all season long to win a sectional title.
5) Jackson Liberty (17-6, 7-5) Last Week: 6
The Lions opened up with No. 14 Camden Eastside and won both sets by 19 and 20 points, a dominating first-round win for the program. They'll be given the task of facing No. 6 Oakcrest in the quarterfinals. The Lions all season long have been playing strong volleyball throughout and the bracket seems to somewhat fall in their favor. If they can get through Oakcrest, they'll face the winner of No. 10 Sterling and No. 2 Pleasantville. No. 1 Barnegat in the finals would have a nice ring to it if the Lions can make it that far.
6) Brick Memorial (17-7, 10-4) Last Week: 12
The Mustangs take a significant leap in the rankings, jumping six spots since last week. The Mustangs faced No. 12 Brick Township in the opening round of CJG3, dominating in back-to-back sets. The Mustangs played road warriors against No. 4 Northern Burlington, winning in an epic three-set dual. The Mustangs will have the daunting task of facing No. 1 Princeton, who overwhelmed Colts Neck in the quarterfinals. While the prospect of taking down Princeton seems unlikely, the way the Mustangs have been playing down the stretch would say otherwise.
7) Middletown South (14-7, 10-2) Last Week: 5
The Eagles magical season came to an end after they were taken down by No. 3 Moorestown in straight sets. While it wasn't the run the Eagles would've hoped for, it doesn't take away from the incredible season the program had. Most wins in a season, first time winning both SCT and state matchups and multiple school records broken over the course of the season proved how strong of a season it was for the Eagles. The future is bright for Midd. South as they'll be returning a strong cast with new prospects on the way in '24.
8) Pinelands (17-10, 8-6) Last Week: 8
The B-South may prove to be the strongest division across the Shore Conference in 2023, as Pinelands is one of four teams that stays alive inside of postseason play. The Wildcats took down No. 15 Ocean City in straight sets before having to face No. 7 Lacey in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats proved that the No. 2 seed belongs their way, taking down Lacey in back-to-back sets. The Wildcats will be back at home for their semifinal matchup against No. 6 Timber Creek, with No. 1 Mainland and No. 5 Toms River East lingering in the other semifinal.
9) Raritan (12-7, 7-5) Last Week: 9
The Rockets look to make noise inside CJG2, winning their first-round matchup against No. 15 Newark Central. Their next task will be No. 10 Manasquan, another prime shore matchup inside the state brackets. As the No. 2 seed, the Rockets will have home-court advantage up until the finals, if they're able to make it that far. There's a chance that the pathway to the finals will have to go through the Shore Conference, potentially having to face No. 3 Rumson-Fair Haven in the semifinals. All season long, the Rockets have played a high-level of volleyball and continued to show that against Newark Central.
10) Howell (17-4, 12-1) Last Week: 7
The Rebels looked to reset their season last week against No. 9 Cherokee, but were overmatched on the court in straight sets. While it wasn't the ending to the season that the program would've asked for, it was still a division-title season with 17 wins. Nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever and with a program returning all but one starter in '24, there's no reason to think the Rebels won't be right back in the same position as they were all season long.
11) Red Bank Catholic (13-8, 8-4) Last Week: 11
The Caseys will have a tough task of facing No. 5 St. John Vianney in the opening round of Non-Public Group A. The Caseys have played consistent volleyball throughout '23, with streaky patches coming every now and then. With the amount of talent that the Caseys possess on the court, an upset against Vianney wouldn't be the most shocking of outcomes. In what's an absolute powerhouse of a bracket, the Caseys will have to go in with the mindset of every game potentially being their last and playing every game like it's a state championship.
12) Toms River East (12-10, 9-5) Last Week: NR
The Raiders are back inside the Shore 16 and have jumped all the way up to 12 after their first and second round performances inside SJG3. The Raiders were able to take care of No. 12 Cherry Hill West in straight sets before the daunting task of travelling to No. 4 Hammonton came on the agenda. With their backs against the wall and down a set early, the Raiders were able to storm back and dance into the sectional semifinals. No. 1 Mainland is their next task, with a potential date against No. 2 Pinelands in the finals awaiting.
13) Rumson-Fair Haven (12-9, 6-6) Last Week: 13
The Bulldogs were able to take care of business against No. 14 Lincoln in consecutive sets to jumpstart their run inside of CJG2. The Bulldogs will be given the task of facing No. 11 Cranford inside the quarterfinals, as the winner of this matchup will be waiting the winners of No. 2 Raritan and No. 10 Manasquan. The thought of a Raritan-Rumson semifinal will make Shore Conference sycophants drool. The draw falls into their favor for another matchup, as the Bulldogs have played sustainable volleyball all season long.
14) Marlboro (12-9, 8-5) Last Week: 10
The Mustangs were looking to carry the momentum from their Shore Conference Tournament run into states, but were upset by No. 11 Bridgewater-Raritan in straight sets. It was a streaky season for the Mustangs, but were able to show the conference who they truly were inside the SCT, winning against Howell. The Mustangs will return a strong cast next season, but will be losing their top threat in Cece Marino. With a strong group returning, look for the Mustangs to be right back into the rankings.
15) Point Beach (14-12, 9-2) Last Week: 14
The Garnet Gulls were awarded the No. 1 seed in SJG1, giving them home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. After taking down No. 16 Cape May Tech in straight sets, the minds have shifted to their quarterfinal matchup against No. 9 Highland Park. The Garnet Gulls are focused on today and have high aspirations throughout. The Garnet Gulls love their chances this year, as they should. They've played against the Shore Conference all season long, giving them an advantage that nobody else would have.
16) Central Regional (12-9, 8-6) Last Week: 14
The record of the Golden Eagles wouldn't indicate their first-round matchup against Cherry Hill East, as CHE looked under-seeded if anything. Coach Mangold did a fantastic job with this program all season long and will be returning superstar Kate O'Blek front and center for '24. After seeing what they could do all season, the aspirations for the future are incredibly high for Central Regional. It'll be interesting to see how it all comes together next year.
Colts Neck (11-13)