By all accounts, it looks as if Hunterdon Central is reloaded once again to make a state title run.
With a slew of letterwinners back this season, led by superb senior setter Emily Drew, and other offensive weapons like senior outside hitter Shannon Russell, opposite hitter Carolina Thatch and middles Madeline McGee and Lauren Westervelt, Central shouldn’t have a problem putting the ball away.
“I think the kids are the most excited to bring it (experience) back because they’re really starting to jell and play a team game,” said second-year Hunterdon Central coach Stephen Fenton. “The kids are really comfortable with each other from the past and really see the potential that they have.
“From playing a few scrimmages, the kids are starting the see signs that we’re going to be a tough team, and their confidence is sky high and that makes us a dangerous team.”
The Red Devils also have junior Nia Smith, who will play opposite hitter, and junior Rachel Catena has transitioned from outside hitter to libero. Also on the squad is junior middle Jamie Giaquinto, junior outside hitter Margaret Siek and sophomore outside hitter Morgan Meredey. Seniors Erin Hilgen and Kristen Lavallato are defensive specialists and Julie Krueutzer is the backup setter.
But the spotlight is on Drew. She has verbally committed to play volleyball for Division II Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. She’ll sign her National Letter of Intent in November during the official signing period.
Having relocated from Texas at the start of her sophomore year, Drew shined playing setter during the Red Devils’ 36-1 season in 2010. As a junior in 2011 and with first-year coach Stephen Fenton bringing a completely new offensive system to the program, Drew adapted flawlessly and paced the team as it went 30-6 while winning the NJSIAA Group IV South sectional title.
Drew holds school records for assists in a season, assists in match and average assists per match. She’s expected to break 1,500 career assists early this fall, and has an outside chance of reaching 2,000 assists for her career. Drew finished her junior campaign with 520 assists, inching her career total to 1,220.
Delaware Valley, the youngest program in Hunterdon County, has improved incrementally each season and should expect their strongest season to date.
Senior setter and opposite hitter Avery Brunkus, who was a first-team All-Skyland Conference Divisional selection last season, and middle Carly Skibinsky, an All-Skyland Conference honorable mention pick, lead a pack of eight returning seniors to the Terriers this fall.
Coming off of a 9-13 season last fall, expect the very young Vikings to be a work in progress.
Voorhees has just one player with varsity experience in senior Kelly Reilly. Reilly has moved from defensive specialist to opposite hitter this season .
The Vikings don’t boast much size on their roster either, so expect them to play a scrappy, defensive-minded game.
Junior Rebecca Hill, an outside hitter and another team captain, will garner a lot of the offensive spotlight.