One of the toughest things to do in girls volleyball is go undefeated for the season, and South Brunswick learned just that as they received their first loss at the hands of Old Bridge on Thursday..
The Knights, who had come in as heavy underdogs, took the match in straight games, defeating the Vikings 25-20, 25-21.
“We knew South Brunswick was an awesome team,” said Old Bridge coach Andrew Hopman, “They beat us last time and we felt like we overanalyzed them, and this time we said ‘let’s just go out and play our game.’ “
The Knights did just that, taking down a team that had won 18 straight matches, as well as being a heavy favorite for next week’s GMC Tournament.
Marta Belli, who received the game ball from Hopman, played a huge part in the upset. She finished with five aces and 19 assists. While she was happy with her personal play, Belli was focused on a bigger picture.
“This is South Brunswick so it’s a big game for us,” Belli said, “but it was more important because it was ‘Pink Out’ and we wanted to show support for the fight against breast cancer.”
The crowd in attendance, sometimes so loud the gym became deafening, got a real treat, as the Knights were able to pull together,
“We just played our hearts out,” Belli said, “we dug a lot of balls and got our hits down and it was successful.”
South Brunswick head coach Shaun Ruymen had nothing but praise for both teams, but he noted that a winnable game escaped from his team’s grasp.
“You can’t take anything away from Old Bridge,” Ruymen said. “They really took us off our game. We had a lot of mental mistakes and a lot of errors and we just couldn’t put it together when it counted.”
The Vikings will be heavy favorites come tournament time next weekend, and while an undefeated season is unreachable, Ruymen thinks that might not be a bad thing.
“I never say a loss is a good thing,” Ruymen said, “but in moments like this sometimes it takes the monkey off your back a little bit. It’s one less thing we have to be mentally concerned with.”
Old Bridge, now 14-6, will look to take this momentum into next weekend’s tournament.
“We’re just trying to get the best seed we can,” said Hopman, “we’re just looking to do the best we can against everyone in the GMC.”