RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Madison girls volleyball team did what it had to do to win on the road in the state tournament: get out to a fast start and keep the home team crowd quiet.
Unfortunately, the Lady Dodgers were not able to finish the job on Tuesday afternoon against Rutherford.
Madison was one point away from locking up the first set with a 24-17 lead, but the home Rutherford team would just not let them.
The Lady Dodgers saw the Bulldogs score seven straight points to send the game into overtime and then Madison could not withstand the hitting of Rutherford's Erin Moss, who scored the next two points.
The sixth-seeded Madison squad took a 26-24 loss in the first set at third-seeded Rutherford.
Despite the Lady Dodgers going point-for-point in the second set, they could not rebound and dropped the second set, 25-19, to end their season in the Group 1 quarterfinals.
"I thought we should have won that first set since we were at set point," said Madison head coach Stephen Fenton. "That is not taking anything away from Rutherford. They deserved to win."
Junior middle hitter Margy Taylor led the Madison attack with eight kills, six digs and two blocks, while junior outside hitter Olivia Alexander added six kills and eight digs. Senior setter Jen Vorel chipped in 22 assists, while senior outside hitter Kayla Fennelly added six digs.
Fenton said that too many mistakes did in his Dodgers. "We had too many unforced errors," said Fenton. "We just never could get into our groove today."
During the 2010 season, Madison won the Group 1 South sectional title. "We were pointing to get back to that," said Fenton, whose team lost in the sectional semi-finals last season.
Despite the loss Madison continued to show they are one of the best girls volleyball teams with a 21-2 record. Their only other loss came at the hands of Kinnelon in the Morris County Tournament quarterfinals.
While the Dodgers lose some very good players in Vorel, Fennelly and middle hitter Maddy Watson, they have Fennelly, Taylor and defensive specialist Mackie Goodwin returning for 2013. "We had a very good season and we should still be strong," said Fenton, who pointed out that both Fennelly and Taylor are part of the U.S. National 17-year-old all-star team.
Coming into the contest, Rutherford knew what they had to do -- shut down Taylor. "We watched some videos of them online and we saw that number 8 (Taylor) was their top player and was all over the floor," said Rutherford's Moss.
In the second set Madison stayed point-to-point with Rutherford through the first half of the set. Fennelly chalked up a kill to give the Lady Dodgers an 11-10 lead while Fennelly registered a service ace to tie the game at 14.
But Madison just could not stop Rutherford's Moss, Alexandra Paskas and Jessica Rogers who combined for 22 kills in the game.
The Lady Dodgers were only down 19-17 after Alexander registered a kill, but the Lady Bulldogs scored the next four points, basically putting away Madison.