May 28, 2014 at 11:09 PM
LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston boys volleyball team advanced to their fourth straight NJSIAA North II Sectional Final by sweeping Ridge High School in two straight games. The Lancers (25-4) won their 15th straight match, 25-17 and 25-19. The Red Devils of Ridge were ranked 13th coming into the match, and were beaten handily by the 18th ranked Lancers.
It was a victory keyed by a flawless serving game and some deft passing from the back row. Senior setter David Shulman kept Ridge guessing and prevented the Red Devils from setting up a strong blocking game.
The game was close early on, with Livingston holding a slim 13-12 lead. However, the Lancers closed out game 1 by winning 12 of the next 17 points and never looked back.
Game 2 proved to be much of the same. Livingston jumped out to a quick lead, and Ridge never got within four points the rest of the day.
Senior Middle Tom Montesion, the lone returning starter from last year’s Sectional Championship team, led the way with 11 kills. He found open spots on the court all afternoon. Junior middle Mikey Thompson also shined, chipping in with five kills. Junior outside hitter Jason Levine, who has truly impressed in his breakout season, also had five kills, and was there when Shulman called on him.
Levine stated, “Our serving and passing helped get us our win as well as our hitters powering through the block.”
Senior opposite hitter Jay Schaefer, who learned a new position this year, has come on strong in the last several weeks. He was a force on offense with four kills and chipped in with a few great saves.
Schaefer said, “We picked each other up when needed, converted our serving and passing.”
Senior outside Mike Cheng added three kills and made some key passes throughout the match.
Shulman had perhaps one of his best performances as a Lancer, dishing out 28 assists to go along with two service aces. His communication with the hitters today, especially, Montesion and Thompson, was a key to Livingston’s success.
Junior libero Kevin Cheng and junior defensive specialist Matt Brown repeatedly made great passes to Shulman to keep the offense moving. Sophomore defensive specialist Jack Rulka also performed well when he was manning the serve receive line.
This was Livingston’s fourth straight trip to the Sectional Final. Back in 2011, Livingston lost at this point while visiting St. Peters. In 2012, Livingston lost the Sectional Final at Bayonne. In 2013, the third time was a charm, and Livingston defeated St. Peters to win the Sectional title for the first time.
Now, St. Peters is looking to avenge last year’s loss, and the #3 ranked team will have the home court advantage, with the match taking place on Friday, May 30, at 4:30 p.m., at St. Peters High School in Jersey City.