Shore Conference Girls Volleyball Preview
By Casey Krish - Shore Sports Network Contributor
The 2021 Girls Volleyball season is finally upon us. Many changes will set the tone for the abbreviated season, which is set to kick off on Tuesday, March 16.
Three new programs join the varsity ranks this year: Asbury Park, Middletown North and Middletown South. Manasquan and Mater Dei Prep also join a division this year as well.
The Shore Conference was set to unveil a new alignment for this season but instead will use a new COVID-alignment that reduces travel. The conference will consist of six divisions, with each division having six teams. Each team will play the other teams in their division twice before having a modified state tournament in April.
(Teams listed alphabetically)
Class A North
5-11 (4-8, fifth in A-North)
Colts Neck will look to improve on a respectable season a year ago. With the addition of Middletown North and Middletown South to the varsity ranks, the Cougars could look to capitalize on some new teams trying to establish themselves.
Colts Neck will return their entire roster from a year ago after fielding no seniors. Senior Jill Zeltser led the way with 52 kills last year. Gabby Chin also returns along with 98 digs, 155 assists, and 102 service points. Melissa Deissler will also enter her final season after posting big numbers last year. Mary Huegal and Kiersten Geissler are two juniors who will make an impact on the court as well.
2-15 (1-11, seventh in A-North)
Long Branch will be looking to improve off a season that saw them pull out a divisional win over RBR and another victory over Keyport.
The Green Wave will be led by returning players in Mesquita Kathleen, Maria Lutz and Alex Polio.
17-6 (11-3, second in B-North)
Raritan shifts over to A-North this season after winning the B-North public title last year. The Rockets will be Sarah O’Leary and Isabella Ventrone.
Ventrone led the way with129 kills and 120 digs while also posting 43 aces last season. O’Leary posted 107 kills and solid overall numbers as well.
St. John Vianney
19-7 (14-0, first in B-North)
The Lancers dominated the B-North division last year, going a perfect 14-0, as well as battling in close defeats to Donovan Catholic and Southern Regional, two shore powerhouses. This year, the Lancers should be the favorite to capture the division crown yet again.
SJV will return senior Julia DiFazio to the floor, where last year she led the way with 91 kills and was second with 109 digs. Marina Millett will look to improve on a breakout sophomore year that saw her collect 80 kills, 99 digs and 22 aces. Mackenzie Bloss had 105 assists last year for a team that will need to replace the 414 lost from Camryn Millett’s graduation.
Class A Central
26-7 (11-3, second in A-South)
Brick Memorial brings back a strong cast that will make a case for a top spot in the conference. They are led by junior all-state third team member Kate Stoughton. She led the Mustangs with 336 kills, 245 digs, 204 service points and 93 aces.
Sophia Cressman, Katelyn Reilly, Ava Scaramella and Shannon Thatcher return with varsity experience.
8-14 (4-10, sixth in A-South)
Brick Township loses quite a few names to graduation this season but will have plenty of players looking to make a bigger impact this year.
Sabrina Halk, Jess Wicker, Juliana Wicker and Casi Worman return as seniors with varsity experience, while Hannah Brennan and Emelia Font will make impacts as juniors.
8-9 (5-7, fourth in A-North)
Freehold will be a relatively young group. Junior Juliana Esteban comes back after finishing second with 42 kills and 52 service points. Sofia Hor had 39 kills, 39 service points and 14 aces as a freshman.
15-5 (11-1, first in A-North)
The Rebels shift to A-Central after dominating in A-North a year ago. Rachel Ferrara led the way with 316 assists last year.
Kelsey Gilbert, Olivia Hill, Isabella Lackey, Julia Larko, Alexia Rodrigues, Emma Spanvill, Ally Tullo and Stephanie Yaegel all return with experience as well.
3-13 (1-13, eighth in A-South)
8-4 (14-11, third in A-North)
Marlboro returns two seniors in Christie Cavasin and Danielle Mazariegos who led the way with 77 and 75 kills respectively.
Jessica Riepe will be an impact senior while Samantha Slofkiss, Sabrina Volis, Julia Bauer and Lauren Ohana will get plenty of time as underclassmen.
Class A South
11-12 (7-9, fifth in A-South)
Central Regional will be a young team looking to replace a good amount of senior production statistically speaking.
Junior Jenna Czajkowski brings back 60 kills and 52 digs. Destiny da Silva, Rebecca Leiter, Hailey Rasmussen, Makayla Rowe and Cassia Weston will make up a strong senior core this year.
7-12 (4-10, sixth in B-South)
The Lions move into A-South after spending the last few seasons in B-South.
Kaitlyn Sabat returns after posting 63 kills as a junior. Lacey McKim led the team with 240 assists a year ago. Rebecca Lorton and Sarah Zimmerman return after strong junior years as well.
32-4 (14-0, first in A-South)
Southern Regional will once again be a threat in the conference as well as the state in 2021. Without a traditional SCT, the Rams will not have to defend their title until next year, but that will not keep them from expecting to win every set.
Stephanie Soares, who is committed to Belmont Abbey, along with Rachael Pharo, Emma Gildea, Erin Alegre and Adrianna Conforti will led a senior core this year. Soares led the team with 642 assists last year, while also posting 118 digs, 241 service points and 55 aces.
Toms River East
12-8 (9-5, fourth in A-South)
The Raiders will be a junior heavy squad led by Rebecca Keith, who led the team with 134 kills and 168 digs as a sophomore.
Shannon Donoway followed suit with 119 kills and 134 digs. Melissa Marvinny, Sabrina Chunn and Alana Ciervo each had over 100 digs as well.
Toms River North
4-15 (2-12, seventh in A-South)
The Mariners return seniors in Ashley Romano, who led the way with 200 assists a year ago, and Emily Shea.
Junior Jessica Spalletta contributed 59 kills. Caitlin Beahm also returns after putting up 201 digs and leading the team as a sophomore.
Toms River South
17-8 (9-5, third in A-South)
Kelle Anwander is set up for a big senior season after posting 202 kills, 131 digs and 84 service points last year. She also led the team with 95 blocks.
Melany Gallo, Amber Gallo, Erin Maguire, Alexa McEwan and Jessica Sundberg all return after contributing last season to lead a deep Indians roster.
Class B North
7-11 (6-8, fifth in B-North)
The Hornets return a pair of seniors in Roxana Puiu and Talia Stolker who each put up impressive numbers for Holmdel. Puiu leads all returnees with 104 digs. Stolker brings back 32 kills, 83 digs and 70 service points.
Anna Briamonte, Alexa Fernandez, Sophia Moglino, Katie O’Brien and Yasemin Yilmaz as well.
Red Bank Catholic
14-10 (10-4, third in B-North)
Charlotte Cade leads an impressive returning group that will have the Caseys making some noise within their division this season. Cade had 151 kills, 12 digs and 134 service points as a junior.
Daniella Gangemi brings back 113 digs and 428 assists. Seton Smith, Alexis Pavlinec, and Kyleigh Burough are among the rest of the cast to round out a very deep lineup.
Red Bank Regional
8-18 (3-9, sixth in A-North)
Red Bank will lean on a younger lineup than it did last year, when it started to find a hot streak near the conclusion of the season. Camryn Stack and Eve Smallwood are two juniors who will make an impact on the lineup once again. Stack led the team with 105 kills, while Smallwood added 27 kills, 10 digs and six assists. Emma Moriarity had 30 kills.
Rumson Fair Haven
8-11 (6-8. fourth in B-North)
Rumson will look to improve upon last season with an experienced lineup including the likes of seniors Nikki Bryen, Lydia Enstrom, Bella Lanzalotto and Sophia Piccolo.
Junior Teagan Fry will make an impact after putting up 103 digs as a sophomore.
13-11 (10-2, second in B-North)
The Knights should once again be a contender for the B-North title, especially with SJV moving to A-North this season. Wall brings back Stephanie Ahern, Katie Fletcher, Kristina Hotaling and Megan Oakley, who all filled the stat sheet a season ago.
Ahern led the team with 210 assists, while Hotaling leads the returning group with 104 kills.
Class B Central
11-14 (5-9, sixth in B-North)
Keyport will have to reload after losing most of their lineup to graduation. Shannon O’Donnell and Kaylie Martinez will crack the lineup as seniors. Victoria Szczepaniak, Mackenzie McGrogan and Jezzle Avinon are all juniors on the roster.
4-18 (1-13, seventh in B-South)
Point Beach will also have to reload after losing quite a few upperclassmen from their ranks. Kristen Ohlinger, Jillian Feehan, Grace Harrigan and Jessica Schaefer are back as seniors.
Isabella Castronovo, Ella Dafeldecker, Julia Rugarber and Molisa Ukperaj will hit the court as juniors.
5-15 (2-12, seventh in B-North)
Lauren Caswell and Victoria Wilson return as seniors for the Purple Roses. Caswell had 12 kills and 14 digs a season ago. Mary Donnelly and Maeve Durkin will play as juniors.
6-19 (2-12, eighth in B-North)
Reece Jones will look to follow up a strong freshman season in which she had 14 kills, 20 digs and 32 service points.
Caitlin Bermingham returns with 110 digs, while junior classmate Sofia Lehman brings back 107. Helena Pecci led the way with 150 assists last year and rounds out the junior heavy lineup.
Class B South
15-11(7-7, fourth in B-South)
Barnegat will look to build off a strong finish last season. They will be a sleeper team in a deep division with the likes of Donovan and Jackson Liberty.
Veronica Tikhomirova returns after posting 206 kills, 186 digs and 109 service points as a junior. Junior Patria Moreno led the team with 189 digs and 422 assists a year ago.
29-5 (14-0, first in B-South)
Donovan Catholic made it to the NJSIAA Non-Public Semi-Finals last year. The Griffins are a perennial power in the conference every year, and this year should be no different.
Karin Ojeda returns after posting a mind-blowing 648 assists over her junior season as well as 99 aces. Lexi Franzyshen posted 124 kills and a team-leading 28 blocks. Mikayla Dalton, Charlotte Dwyer, Madison Elsey, and Maddie Winch are all seniors and will make an impact as well.
17-10 (11-3, second in B-South)
Jackson Liberty will once again challenge for the B-South public title this season. Victoria Matthews leads all returning players this year with 239 digs, 135 service points and 35 aces.
Kim Stallworth will once again make an impact as a junior with 102 digs, 362 assists, and 109 service points. Riley Stewart, Chelsea Ross and Jamie Libutti will help the Lions fight for the division crown.
14-12 (7-7, fifth in B-South)
The Piners will rely on a senior class of Joana Nieto, Ana Gonzalez, Sheylah Farfan, Nayeli Rodriguez and Itzel Vega.
Nieto posted 206 digs while Gonzalez had 193 digs, 141 service points and 54 aces.
1-19 (1-13, eighth in B-South)
Manchester will have an older core, including basketball standout and 2,000 point scorer Destiny Adams, and will look to improve upon a one-win campaign.
Adams had 78 kills and 32 blocks during her junior season. She will be joined by Myah Hourigan, Gabriella Kisielewski, Mylei Jackson, Emma Struble, Hailey Sales and Adrianna and Olivia Paolilo.
20-10 (11-3, third in B-South)
The Wildcats will challenge the conference yet again. They won the SCT back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018.
Allison Grotts and Ciara Rheiner are both set up for strong senior seasons. Grotts led the way with 462 assists, while Rheiner had 104 kills, 34 digs and 56 service points. Olivia Anderson brings back 103 kills and 54 digs as well.