SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. -- Union Catholic defeated Hudson Catholic to win the NJSIAA Section B Non-Public Championship in a three-set thriller between state powerhouses in front of a packed and loud crowd at Union Catholic on Wednesday night.
After the teams split the first two sets both that both ended with scores of 25-20, UC found itself trailing 11-4 and 18-14 in the decisive third set. But the Vikings came storming back and eventually took a 24-23 lead.
That set the stage for match point.
Sign Up for E-News
With UC's Charlize Colon serving with the 24-23 lead and the Union Catholic fans going bonkers, Hudson Catholic unleashed a wicked spike, but it was denied on a block by Chloe John and Prima Ngumah, which clinched the sectional title for UC and set off a wild celebration.
It was a dramatic and emotional comeback victory for UC's players, parents, and fans as the Vikings, ranked No.8 in the state, avenged its losses to No. 11 ranked Hudson Catholic in the previous two sectional championship matches.
With the victory, UC, which won its 10th straight match to improve to 26-3, advanced to the State Non-Public Championship match vs. No. 1 ranked Immaculate Heart Academy on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at William Paterson University.
Colon, who had eight service points, an ace, seven kills, and 11 digs, was not going to let her team lose again to Hudson Catholic.
"I literally have no words," expressed Colon, a senior tri-captain. "We were really down as a team, but we just came back. I do not know what happened, but we clicked and pulled through one set, two set, three set. We were done and came back and it feels so amazing because we played as team."
In the first set, UC and Hudson Catholic were tied at 16-16 before the Vikings went on a 7-2 run to take control on the way to a 25-20 victory. After Hudson Catholic squared the match by winning the second set, 25-20, multiple players stepped up for UC in the final set to achieve this victory.
One of the biggest moments of the third set for UC came when the Vikings were trailing, 23-22. That's when senior Prima Ngumah delivered a resounding spike to tie the match and ignite a 3-0 run to close out the dramatic victory.
Several players sparkled for UC. Chloe John led the team with 18 assists and three aces, Alexandra Kwasnik led the team with 11 kills and five blocks, Najlaa Williams led the team with 12 service points, Olivia Szyszkiewicz led the team with 13 digs.
"We played as a team, we didn't get down on ourselves and when we did we pushed through and didn't let it get to our heads," explained Szyszkiewicz, who contributed seven service points, an ace, six kills, and 13 digs.
Szyszkiewicz.said the Vikings are very excited about playing in its first state final since 2011 as UC seeks its first state championship since 2005.
"We are going to practice this week and do everything we can to make ourselves ready for IHA in the state final,'' said Szyszkiewicz.