It didn’t take long for the Southern Regional Rams to go on one of their famed runs.
The run took place in the first game of their 2-0 first-round win over Bayonne in girls volleyball in the NJSIAA Group IV tournament Wednesday.
The eighth-seeded Rams closed the game with a 20-3 avalanche. The surge propelled Southern (27-7) into the second round scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Friday against Westfield, a 25-21 and 25-11 winner over Absegami.
“We played as a team,” said Southern senior outside hitter Emily Miglin, who notched 10 kills in 16 attempts and scrapped for four digs in the match. “Everything was working right. All of the pieces were working perfectly. We worked hard all season to go on a run like that. We came out with confidence and finished the game with confidence.”
“For us to be successful, we have to have poise and confidence,” said Southern senior reserve defensive specialist Frannie Jarin. “We have confidence that we can go as far as we want to in this tournament.”
Southern coach Eric Maxwell, whose team has won 15 straight home matches in NJSIAA play, said he was impressed with his team’s play during the run.
“We played clean and our ball control was real good,” he said. “In our practices leading to this match, we stressed controlling the ball as they don’t have dominant hitters. Our hitters were able to swing away off good passes from our setters. They (the Bees) hung around a little bit. I could see a run coming as I liked how we were moving.”
Senior outside hitter-middle blocker Cece Hodgson keyed the run with four kills. Senior right side-middle blocker Megan Wilk added three kills. Sophomore middle blocker Alexa Cacacie added two kills. Miglin capped the run with a kill.
The eighth-seeded Rams opened the second game with a 6-0 burst against the 25th-ranked Bees (13-11). Hodgson ignited the surge with a kill. Miglin followed with a kill and Hodgson capped the spree with an ace.
Southern buried the Bees with another run, closing the game with a 15-8 run. Jarin highlighted the run with three aces, giving the Rams their 21st, 22nd and 24th points. A Bayonne serve sailed long, ending the match.
“I was hitting deep, high floaters and a few short balls that just barely made it over the net,” the 5-foot, 110-pound Jarin said. “I tried to mix it up to keep them guessing. You have to have confidence when you are back there serving. If you are not confident, you won’t be able to put the ball where you want to.
“We were all poised through the end of the match. For us to be successful, we have to have poise and confidence. We have to keep working hard.”
Jarin also competes in softball for the Rams. Possible collegiate destinations are either Fairleigh Dickinson University-Madison or Wilkes University.
“Jarin is a tough server,” Maxwell said. “She’s quick on defense. She gave us a good spark. She got us on a run with her serving. She came off the bench and brought energy.”
Hodgson, who put home seven kills in 16 attempts, added two aces. Senior setter Alex Andriani added 12 assists. Senior setter-right side Carly DellaValle contributed seven assists and four digs. Senior libero-defensive specialist Marina Felmly added six digs.
Jarin finished with three aces and three digs. Wilk added two kills and four blocks. The Rams blasted home 21 kills in 42 attempts in the match.
“We have one of our lowest seeds in this tournament in the history of our program,” Maxwell said, “but it’s the same spot North Carolina State was in when it won the (NCAA basketball) tournament under (coach) Jim Valvano. Survive and advance.”
“We’re always the underdogs,” Miglin said. “We’re never ranked high, but we won’t let it hold us back from reaching our whole potential and being the best we can be.”