PATERSON, NJ - A convincing second set win in the best of three match wasn’t enough to lift Eastside High School boys’ volleyball squad to victory in second round NJISAA North Jersey Section 1 action against Passaic Thursday.
After capturing their first state tournament victory in school history over West Essex on Tuesday the Ghosts travelled to Passaic High School hoping to keep their tournament dreams alive.
Eastside was again led by senior outside hitters George Gonzalez and Ny’Vir Perkins while Passaic countered with middle man Kendall Maloy. The two senior Ghosts teamed with opposite hitter Dewer Lausell to create many memorable confrontations at the net with the 6’5” Indians’ junior throughout the entire contest.
The initial moments were highlighted by a spectacular kick-save by Lausell to rescue the ball from hitting the floor. Maloy answered with a kill for the Indians but both teams traded turnovers as the Indians hit the twine with a serve and Paterson was called for net interference.
Gonzalez then took Passaic defenders by surprise by faking a slam and placing a perfect tap into empty space. However, a kill attempt by the senior leader was rebuffed by the Passaic front line. After an Eastside serve sailed out of bounds, and down by a score of 9-4, Ghosts’ Head Coach Robert Black called a timeout to calm his troops.
Maloy continued to wreak defensive havoc at the net as several Eastside kill attempts sailed out of bounds. Despite an ace serve by the Ghosts which narrowed the point deficit, the Indians’ lead ballooned to 20-7.
In a dramatic skirmish at the net, Lausell turned in a sensational block of a slam attempt by the much taller Maloy. However, a serve miscue by the Indians did not prevent them from notching game point to prevail in the first match by a score of 25-13.
If anyone left early, thinking the contest would be a blowout, they were very mistaken. The Ghosts roared back in the second match as Gonazlez, Perkins, and Lausell heated up, aided by a little help from their friends.
Early on, the Ghosts’ Kevin Rivera won a battle at the net with a perfect return which fell tantalizingly to the floor just beyond the reach of a diving Passaic defenseman. Up 6-3, Eastsides’ Daizon Pauldo aced a serve. A scintillating save by Torres saw Gonzalez, as Johnny on the Spot, take full advantage to hammer an unreturnable kill. The Indians flubbed a serve by Gonzalez but retaliated, serving up their own ace. Lausell and Gonzalez then each turned in phenomenal backwards hits to keep an intense volley going and secure an Eastside score.
Up by a score of 12-8, the Ghosts’ Alberto Torres set up yet another Gonzalez slam and Rivera blocked a Passaic kill attempt for a second, consecutive Ghosts’ point. Rivera continued his stellar play in a showdown at the twine with a finesse tap.
With momentum building and holding a 22-17 lead, the Eastside rally was quelled by an out of bounds serve. Following several nail biting volleys and behind the play of Maloy, Passaic cut the Ghosts’ lead to 24-21. As the noise of the capacity crowd reached a frenetic crescendo, Gonzalez silenced Passaic fans by placing a perfect return to ice the victory for Eastside, 25-22. The table was then set for the defining, final set.
The Indians raced to a 3-0 lead before committing a miscue on a volley. However, a nicely placed serve by Gonzalez and a double block by the Ghosts produce a pair of Eastside points. After the squads traded successful kills, the Indians’ senior Brian Aquino added a third. A holding call on Paterson was followed by a Maloy slam, after being set up by junior teammate Anthony Lorenzo. Another dramatic duel materialized at the net between Maloy and Lausell with, this time, the latter winning.
The Ghosts were bolstered by the serving and all around play of Eastside libero Carlos Ortiz. However, Maloy and company stepped up their game to block a number of Ghosts’ kill attempts. A Torrez serve which was fumbled by the Indians was followed by a tenacious, successful kill by Lausell. Torres then, while racing out of bounds, offered a nice return which eventually led to an Eastside point.
The Ghosts continued to battle and whittle Passaic’s six point lead to 17-14 before several misplaced kill attempts and a block by Maloy diffused the rally. After the Ghosts were tagged with a stepping on the middle line infraction, Maloy delivered a bullet slam.
Despite several more kills by Gonzalez, both set up by Torrez, the Indians were able to pull away and conclude their 25-18 victory.
Gonzalez led the Ghosts with 15 kills and 5 digs. Torres contributed 21 assists while Pauldo turned in a trio of ace serves. Edwin Elony also contributed four blocks for Eastside. Lorenzo handed out 26 assists for the Indians while Maloy and Aquino delivered eight kills apiece.
Passaic continues in tournament play against Bloomfield.
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