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Aug 30, 2022

Colts Neck Girls Volleyball: ‘So Motivated, So Ready’

By Tim Morris

The Colts Neck High School girls’ volleyball team won the 2021 NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III championship.

When you’ve had the finest season in program history, what to do for an encore is the question.

Last fall, the Colts Neck High School girls’ volleyball team won their first-ever state sectional championship (NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III) and played for the Group III state championship.

“It was special what we did last year,” said Head Coach Greg Hope. “Could we do it again? We have the opportunity and potential to make another run. We have the talent to go for it again. The girls are so motivated, so ready. They want it.”

With four veteran starters returning from that 19-4 squad that also captured the A Central Division crown, Hope believes his team is capable of defending their championships.

It starts with the returning core of Madison McSorley, Alex Foley, Sophia Koval and Savannah Butz. Foley is a four-year starter while McSorley, Koval and Butz are in their third seasons as starters. Butz is the only junior of the group with the others all seniors. They have developed an unshakeable chemistry forged by experience.

Koval is the team’s setter and recorded 452 assists in ’21. Her sharp passing helped Cougars register 535 kills.

Defense was a key to Colts Neck’s run to the state sectional title, and it was libero (defensive player) McSorley who was a big reason. She came up with 351 digs. Outside hitter Foley was dominant at the net with 133 kills. She also had 173 digs. Middle blocker Butz was a force up front as well with 41 kills and 34 blocks.

Hope is looking for Brooke Lombardo (Sr.), Lauren Zeltser (Sr.), Stacey Mancini (Jr.) and Chiara Lombardo (Sr.), who saw playing time last year, to step up and play bigger roles to give the team depth behind its core.

Along with a dominant defense, serving was instrumental to Colts Neck’s success.

“It was the best serving team I’ve ever coached,” said Hope. “Everyone was dangerous. We could go on runs of five to 10 points.”

What made Colts Neck’s serving so dangerous and effective was that the Cougars had six servers who were all capable of getting hot and going on a run. The team totaled 232 aces. Foley, McSorley and Koval are the three returning servers. Hope expects Butz to step in this fall and join the trio as a potent server.

Just as Colts Neck’s serving had such an impact on its game, conversely, practicing every day against those serves made the Cougars efficient on the receiving end. They did not give up many free points receiving.

Colts Neck defeated Brick Memorial, 2-0, to capture that elusive sectional title. The Cougars then beat South champion Toms River East, 2-0, in the Group III semifinal before bowing 2-0 to North Hunterdon in the Group III final.

That loss has provided the Cougars with motivation they need to try and get back to state final this season.