FAIR LAWN, NJ – Facing overwhelming odds, #2 seed Bloomfield was overpowered by #1 seed Fair Lawn 2-0 (25-16 and 25-9) in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1 Boys Volleyball Tournament Final on Friday, May 31 at Fair Lawn High School.
After the Bengals made quick work of #3 seed Passaic, sweeping the Indians 2-0 (25-16 and 25-15) in the semifinals on Wednesday, May 29 at Bloomfield High School, the Bengals hit the road for their first post-season away game including the Essex County and NJSIAA Tournaments.
Bloomfield was playing in their first-ever sectional championship game in school history and held their own against Fair Lawn until midway through the first game before sloppy serving led to a loss of momentum.
“Fair lawn is no joke – we played pretty well in the first game and were leading most of the game before they tied it up 14-14 and then ran away with it, winning 25-16,” said Bengals Head Coach Louis Stevens. “Cannot miss six serves and expect to win. Missed another five serves in game two and were never really in it.”
With the loss, the Bengals end their season at 22-6 overall, including winning eight of their final nine matches, and capturing the Super Essex Conference American Division Title with a 7-1 record.
“Peter Zisa (Fair Lawn Head Coach) always has their team ready to play and they are used to these big games,” Stevens added. “Still super proud of the team and their accomplishments this year. (We) achieved three of the four goals I set for the team – SEC League Champs, Essex County Champs, and State Sectional Finalist. We just didn't win the section to get to the State Semifinals. There's always next year.”
Bloomfield and Fair Lawn met once during the season in a non-division meeting on April 15 with Fair Lawn beating the Bengals 2-0 (25-20 and 25-19).
On the road to the sectional final, Bloomfield defeated #7 seed Belleville 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Thursday, May 23, and the Bengals swept Hackensack 2-0 in the first-round last Tuesday, May 21.
“I feel that we’ve had a very successful season considering that we accomplished history in reaching the Sectional Finals for the first time ever,” Bengals senior Chris Voicu told TAP. “Winning the County Championship against Livingston after losing to them the past two years is also another cause for celebration because it demonstrates that we are the more dominant team.”
Fair Lawn now boasts a remarkable 35-3 overall record. They defeated #12 seed West Caldwell 2-0 on Wednesday, May 29 in Fair Lawn to advance to the finals.
Fair Lawn now advances to the State Semifinals against Southern at South Brunswick on Tuesday, June 4.
“It wasn’t until I played out the final points in Fair Lawn on Friday that I finally realized I was playing my last volleyball game ever at BHS,” Voicu added. “I was overwhelmed by many feelings, mostly those of sadness but at the same time gratefulness. I was sad that my time at Bloomfield is coming to an end, I was sad that there aren’t any more games for my teammates and I to put our all into. However, I was still appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to represent such a prestigious sport at Bloomfield.”
Overall, it was a tremendous season for Bloomfield as for the first time since 2016, the Bengals captured the Essex County Tournament by sweeping Livingston 2-0 (25-21 and 25-15) on Saturday, May 18.
Voicu concluded, “Being one of the best players on a team that is ranked Top 15 in the state truly humbles me and reminds me to appreciate everything I have, such as the opportunity to play volleyball for Bloomfield. I want to say that although we may have lost in the finals in Fair Lawn, I’m still proud of how hard we fought this year and proud of the expectations we set for upcoming seasons.”