ROXBURY, NJ – It's been a season of challenges, growth and upbeat attitude for the Roxbury High School volleyball team,which reached 8-8 on Oct. 5 with a win over Kinnelon in a Morris County Tournament (MCT) first-round match, 

The team, which takes on Jefferson today, will face West Morris on Oct. 13 for an MCT quarterfinal round match.

Roxbury is the No. 9 seed and West Morris is No. 1, but coach Anthony McMichael said he and his players are optimistic about the Gaels' chances. "Our confidence has been building with each match and practice, and the girls are excited to compete against West Morris Central in Saturday's quarterfinal match" said the coach.

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He noted that the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) realigned its divisions after last season. “We now have divisional tiers based on program strength,” McMichael said. “The NJAC coaches voted Roxbury into the top division, and we play a pretty challenging schedule day in and day out. We play in the NJAC-American.”

The coach also noted that the Gaels team is composed of “a very young lineup that includes several starting freshmen and sophomores … competing very well in one of the state's most challenging divisions.”

The coach said the team is “improving with each match” and played its “best volleyball of the season” last week.

The match against Kinnelon went 28-26, 14-25 and 25-12 for Roxbury. "Sophomore outside hitters Amber Chen and Quinn Longo, and sophomore middle blocker Juliana Medini combined for 32 kills, and they fueled our offense throughout the match,” McMichael said. “Senior setter Erin Hawley ran a smooth and diverse offense that kept the Kinnelon defense on its heels throughout the match."

The coach said the Colts were tough competitors.

"Kinnelon is a great program and they are extremely well coached by Stephanie Finke,” he commented. “Both teams played very well on Friday, and the match boiled down to a deciding third set. Fortunately, we were able to finish the match strong."

Hawley said the goal of the Gaels is to get stronger and learn from each match.

"Each day is a new day in the gym,” she said. “Every day we try to work to correct mistakes from past matches. Each part of our record, good and bad, represents a piece of our growth as a team. Every day we become stronger, and we feel very prepared and confident for the tough competition upcoming in October. The MCT, and big matches deep into the season is what we’ve waited all year for."