LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Livingston Lancers boy’s volleyball team (7-0) showed its utter dominance Wednesday defeating the 10th ranked Bridgewater-Raritan Panthers (7-5) in just two matches (25-17, 25-23).
Livingston head coach Al Partelow now has the Lancers in position to be one of the best, if not the best, high school volleyball team in the state of New Jersey.
“I think balance, balance across the entire line” said Partelow, when asked what has been the key behind his team’s success. “Our middles are always ready, and we can spread their defense."
“Defensively, we’ve been very good with our serve-receive, and also with our digging.”
The Lancers certainly exhibited this success in Wednesday’s matchup where they not only showed their dominance, but their ability to remain confident in their abilities, even when losing.
After jumping out to an early 7-2 lead, the Panthers, led by Jack Fiesler, came storming back tying the game at 9 a piece. Four lead changes later, the game stood tied at 14.
Immune to the mounting pressure, senior and captain Kyle Rulka helped spark an 11-3 run to give the Lancers a 25-17 game one victory. Rulka, who finished with seven kills in the opening game, credited the overall team chemistry for his dominating success the past four years.
“Strong team play,” stated the four-year varsity starter. “We have a bunch of good guys, and it’s really the ultimate team sport. Everyone’s got to touch the ball and everyone’s doing a great job.”
Just as the Lancers jumped out to an early lead in game one, the Panthers jumped out to an early lead in game two. Following Jason Geary’s back-to-back aces to give Bridgewater a 10-6 lead, the Panthers seemed poise to force a game three.
However, Rulka, fellow captain Logan Corsello, and junior Tom Matteson, each recorded a kill to jump-start a 6-0 Lancer run to give Livingston a 12-0 lead. That lead would be short-lived, as Fiesler, who finished with 13 kills on the afternoon, would inspire yet another Panthers’ rally to give Bridgewater an 18-14 cushion.
But just like what had been the theme all afternoon, the Lancers came right back behind two Corsello blocks to tie it at 22. After a Fiesler Kill, the Lancers were faced with a 23-22 deficit, and just two points away from being forced to play a game three.
Then Livingston did what they have done all season long…finish. A Rulka spike, another Corsello block, and then a booming Corsello kill, final score: Lancers 25, Panthers 23.
“I thought that we just got to bring it to the end here,” explained Corsello. “We’ve been battling so hard, and someone just had to finish it off. We had to walk out of here with a victory.”
Although it was Corsello who delivered the game-wining kill for Livingston, the entire Lancers’ team contributed to the victory. Four different Lancers finished with at least two kills; the only two varsity players who received minutes and did not was the libero Matty Goldberg, who finished with 15 digs, and the setter Phil Spiler, who finished with 17 assists.
The Lancers will put their undefeated record on the line tomorrow when the square off against the West Essex Knights (5-3). Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.