The Greater Middlesex Conference Girls Volleyball Tournament is down to four teams, and two of them are surprises to still be standing at this point in the tournament, which will continue with a pair of semifinals matches on Wednesday.
Eighth-seeded East Brunswick will visit fourth-seeded Old Bridge, while 11th-seeded Edison will be at second-seeded J.F. Kennedy, with both matches slated for 4 p.m. and the two winners scheduled to meet for the GMC title on Saturday at J.P. Stevens at noon.
East Brunswick reached the semifinals after an upset of top-seeded South Brunswick on Saturday, as the Bears took the match 23-25, 25-22, 25-17 to hand the Vikings just their second loss of the season.
“I don’t want to take anything away from either team,” East Brunswick coach Greg Rutz said. “South Brunswick did not play up to their normal level and we played the best we played all year that day.”
Sabrina Chang keyed East Brunswick’s attack with 20 assists while Jen Murphy stepped up big at the net as she recorded six blocks.
“Chang is definitely our best all around player,” Rutz said of his setter, “and (Murphy) is our middle, she’s hitting the ball hard right now and playing some solid defense.”
Other contributors for the Bears include a pair of seniors on the right side, Corissa Wehr and Lena Husslein, as Rutz noted one plays front row and the other plays back row and the combo has really helped the team settle down.
Also Jessica Moy, a junior on the outside, has been a presence with her strong defense.
The Bears have been an up-and-down team through the season as they started the season 0-4, but climbed out of their hole by getting over .500 for the first time all season with the first round upset.
Unfortunately they didn’t qualify for the state tournament, so their focus is solely on the GMCT as they stand just one game away from getting to the GMC final.
“For us when we didn’t make states we just kind of had to put our eggs all in one basket,” Rutz said. “Our first two (GMCT) matches we’ve played great. This is all we have.”
East Brunswick will be met by an Old Bridge team that defeated them twice this season 2-0, as the Knights advanced to the semifinals by defeating fifth-seeded J.P. Stevens 25-14, 17-25, 25-18.
Old Bridge was sparked by Marta Belli and her 23 assists.
In the other semifinal, Edison’s another team like East Brunswick that’s sprung a couple of upsets in this tournament.
The Eagles have twice knocked off a higher seed, beating sixth-seeded Colonia in the first round before taking down third-seeded North Brunswick in Saturday’s quarterfinal.
Jessica Rivera notched 28 assists and Janel Barbee totaled 14 kills for Edison in the win against North Brunswick.
They will have a very stiff test in J.F. Kennedy though, a team that is 23-3 overall and is led by a pair of sisters, senior Cassandra Garison and sophomore Francesca Garison, as the two are known for being a deadly combo near the net as the Mustangs are arguably the favorite now to hoist the GMC crown with the No. 1 seed, South Brunswick, out of the picture.