Friday, October 15th was a great day for the Hilltoppers as the Program hosted their Dig Pink-Out event to raise funds for Side-Out Foundation in their efforts to combat Stage IV Breast Cancer, the least funded of all the types of this disease. The opponent, JP Stevens, the #3 seed in the GMC Tourney and was coming in as the #3 seed currently in the Central Jersey Group 4 section. The venue, Summit High School’s main gym, which saw an estimated 200 people come out in their Pink-Out shirts to support the cause. Hilltopper Vball athletes and families helped raise over $4000 between online and game-day fundraising and their work was a major part of the success of this day.
The crowd was treated to a very exciting and close inter-squad match between the Hilltopper 9th graders and JV. Set 1 went to the 9th graders by a 25-16 score after being spotted a 6-0 lead to start the set. Set 2, with no handicap, went to the JV crew by a 25-18 score. The deciding set went to the JV after a very close, competitive affair by a 25-20 score. Congrats to all the athletes for their outstanding display of competitiveness and high quality volleyball which entertained the crowd! Thank you to Coach Ross and Coach Seifert who guided their teams and helped foster the level of competitiveness the crowd was treated to on Friday!
The main event was the JP Stevens Hawks against the Summit Hilltoppers and the crowd, nearly 250 at the start of the match, was vocal and created an amazing atmosphere for the match. Set 1 saw the Top come out very nervous as the crowd size and volume had the young athletes little jittery. SHS spotted the Hawks a 6-0 lead fueled partially by 3 Summit hitting errors but the Hilltoppers finally got going after they got the ball back off a JP Stevens serving error making the score 1-6. The crowd continued to impact both squads of the service line as serving errors began to be the story early on but Julia Nardino began to settle the Maroon and Black down with a service ace that had the Hilltoppers only down 7-4. The JP squad responded with a 7-3 run that had the scoreboard showing 14-6. Despite the deficit, the support from the crowd was unwavering and when Allison Wauters smashed a kill the place erupted and it began a steady comeback for the Summit squad. Hope Basaman took a perfect set by Zoe Zacharias and dumped the ball into zone 2 for a point. A Rebekah Thompson serve had the Hawks scrambling and forced into an error and the subsequent point led to a solo monster block by Nardino which forced a TO by Coach White of the Hawks with Summit trailing 14-11. Coming off the time-out, Wauters came up with a dig that led to another Basaman kill from the OPP. Nardino had two big blocks, Thompson ripped and ace and Wauters got into the block party as well to help the “D” bring the SHS crew all the way back to a 16-14 lead which had the crown chanting “Let’s Go Summit”.
The Hawks got the ball back off an unfortunate net error by the Hilltoppers and they used it to get a 5-0 run which forced Coach Martins into taking a TO with the Hilltoppers down 20-16. The time-out worked in cooling off the JP server and led to a service error. Vivian Roberts had been pretty quiet until this point but got involved in a big way with a huge block on the OPP and the Hilltoppers were only down 20-19. The teams traded points over the next few rotations with Roberts notching a key kill in transition which had the Top tied at 22 in the latter stages of the match. The Hawks pounded a kill to take the lead which was answered by a powerful swing by Roberts that tied things back up again at 23 but that was as close as the Summit Varsity got to taking the set as the JP Stevens team closed it out 25-23. The Hawks out-killed the Hilltoppers 11-6 but the SHS block made up the difference with a 5-0 advantage. JP and Summit each tallied 2 aces but the SHS crew were called on 4 ball handling and net faults while the Hawks only 1, the ultimate difference in the set.
Set 2 began as a very even affair with both teams knotted at 6 through 4 rotations after a Roberts down ball kill. JP benefitted from 3 consecutive attack errors by the Summit side and forced a TO by SHS that did not have the desired impact that Coach Martins had hoped for as the JP squad got 3 more points and seemed to have things under control with a 13-6 lead. The crowd spurred the team on, exhorting the Summit team to fight on and a Cece Webb kill was followed by an eruption by the crowd which lifted the Hilltopper spirits. SHS steadied the boat over the next few rotations and stayed within striking distance at 10-16, when Roberts moved back to the front row. The Hawks saw Roberts put down 2 kills and Eva Oberhuber had a huge stuff block to force a Hawk TO with the Hilltoppers down only 16-13. But the time-out did its job and forced a Summit service error but the JP Stevens team did not take advantage as their server missed her serve as well and SHS still had hop at 17-14. Roberts got the team to within 3 at 18-15 again but then the Hilltoppers dropped 3 straight points (serving error, hitting error and blocking error) forcing a timeout at 21-15. The Summit crew kept fighting till the end with the support of their crowd but another serving error pushed the team to within one point of a loss at 24-18. Nardino and the Hilltoppers would not yield and a dump kill by the sophomore MB got the team to 24-19. Nardino drove an ace into the Hawks court and the crowd exploded with the score 24-20 but the Hilltoppers ran out of points and the Hawks closed it out 25-20 in a great match.
The Hawks out-killed the Top 22-14 but the Summit crew out-blocked them 6-1. JP out-aced the Hilltoppers 5-3 for 28-25 point advantage a reflection of the tight matchup. Ten service errors combined with 5 net/ball handling faults proved to be the Hilltopper undoing in this matchup.
Thanks to all parents, families, alumnae, athletes and students who came out to support the team and this event!!!! Another great moment in Hilltopper Volleyball!!! THANK YOU!!!