EDISON The Old Bridge High School girls volleyball team had met South Brunswick twice before in the regular season, winning both times. So it wasn’t a surprise when the KNights won again on Saturday in the GMC Tournament final.
In an offensive and defensive showcase, The Knights controlled the majority of the two sets, winning them 25-14 and 25-17, and walked away from Edison as back-to-back GMC champions, picking up their fourth overall GMC title.
“It feels amazing,” said Andrew Hopman, Old Bridge’s head coach. “It feels like the first one I ever won. I’m more emotional than I thought I would be.”
The two past meetings between the teams were mostly competitive affairs. Their first match saw one set go 26-24 in Old Bridge’s favor, and the second meeting required three sets.
This time, the Knights controlled most of the action. South Brunswick spent most of the first set at a nine-point deficit, and while the Vikings did force a 10-10 tie in the second set, the Knights soon pulled away with a 9-1 run.
“I think we played scrappy defense,” said Hopman. “I don’t think we let the ball hit the floor without giving it our all to keep it from hitting the floor. When the other team attacks the ball and we keep the ball going, it kinds of takes the winds out of their sails.”
Despite the Knights’ previous victories over South Brunswick, Hopman says his team didn’t use his past success over the Vikings as a source of motivation.
“I don’t know as far the girls, because we don’t talk about that,” said Hopman. “We felt that if we stuck to our game plan we would win. We came out in that first and got a lot of points and everybody bought into the game plan.”
One of the key players for the Knights’ season, and their win Saturday, was senior captain and middle-blocker Lizzy Joseph. Coming into the game Joseph had a team-leading 212 kills. Joseph recorded 11 kills on the day.
“Whenever she’s in the front row, everybody knows we gotta get the ball to her,” said Hopman.
Joseph credited her offense to her teammates.
“I definitely think we served really well,” said Joseph. “And our passing was on point which definitely helps in the game. I’m so proud of my team, and I’m so glad to be apart of it”
Nicole Bertelle and Olympia Chelchowski also contributed to the Knights’ offense. Bertelle recorded 22 assists and two aces, while Chelchowski a block, an ace and eight kills.
“It’s a great group of girls,” said Hopman. “We’ve been able to go further with this group of girls as far as what plays we run and the things we do. With the fact that so many girls returned from last year, we were able to pick up where we left off and add to it.
“We were a much more diverse team than we’ve ever been. We’re running plays and tandems that we’ve never run before. We were able to build on last year’s team and that was the key (to the season).”