It has been a season of ups and downs for the Marlboro High School boys volleyball team.
The Mustangs entered Wednesday’s non-divisional match against Wall with a 5-6 record. The Crimson Knights, meanwhile, were 9-1.
On Wednesday, however, Marlboro enjoyed plenty of ups, downing the Crimson Knights by 26-24 and 25-20 scores.
Among the Mustangs’ leaders was senior outside hitter Brandon D’Lima, who converted six kills.
“We have had an up and down year,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, I guess you could say we were inconsistent. Now, we are becoming focused. I felt we were focused today. We brought our energy to the court. We got our passing game up. We put the ball down.”
D’Lima is in his second straight season as the Mustangs’ captain.
“It feels good to be the captain,” he said. “I try to keep everyone up by pushing them in the matches. If someone messes up, I tell them what to do to get back into it.”
D’Lima, who hopes to attend the New Jersey Institute of Technology, took up the sport as a freshman.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “It’s so fast paced. There are only six players on the court for each team at a time. It takes a lot of communication and team chemistry to succeed. You have to be able to communicate with your teammates.”
“Brandon is our go-to guy,” Marlboro coach Margie McNamara said. “He makes the key plays. When it gets down to either game point or a tie score, we get the ball to him to get it done. He is very focused.”
For Marlboro, junior middle hitter-blocker Bobby Jastzebski put up 8 kills. Senior outside hitter Josh Schwartzman contributed four kills. Senior setter Dylan O’Handley handed out 17 assists and added two blocks, two kills and one ace. Senior libero Drew Loeser scrapped for six digs.
“The key to the win was our defense,” McNamara said. “Before the match, I told the boys the only way we would win was to play good defense and get our blocks up. Josh gave us some great digs. When we show up, we can play with anyone. It’s a matter of keeping our focus and intensity up. Today, all of the guys contributed.”
The Mustangs captured the first game when Wall senior outside hitter Ryan Donahue blasted a kill attempt long. Marlboro won the second game when Wall junior setter Mike Smith hit the ball out of bounds. The Mustangs, who were in front from start to finish in the second game, saw their lead mushroom to as many as seven points.
“We did not make mistakes in the second game,” D’Lima said. “We let them make the mistakes. Once they made mistakes, they let the game go. They tried to come back, but we shut them down.”
Donahue paced the Crimson Knights with nine kills, four digs and two aces. Smith added 14 assists and three digs. Chris Smith and senior middle blocker Rick Wlazlowski contributed three and two kills, respectively.
“We absolutely had a tough day,” said Dan Leonard, Wall’s first-year coach. “We never got going, never got into a rhythm. We did not show up at all. We have had a roller coaster of a season energy wise. Marlboro is perennially strong. They have disciplined players. They took advantage of our mistakes.
“We did not receive serve well. We did not pass well. Our passes were off the net. They were able to set the ball.”