RANDOLPH, NJ- After graduating 11 seniors, it appeared that a rebuild was in the works for the 2019 Randolph girls volleyball team. Despite a tough start to the season, the Randolph Rams did have a milestone that was reached in a recent match against Montville.
The Rams started their season at home against Morris Knolls, and were swept 0-2 (23-25, 17-25). A failure to find a consistency on serve-receive loomed large in this match.
“Honestly, I think the girls just need more reps at the Varsity level,” Head Coach Sheri Data said, “We’ll just learn from our mistakes and unforced errors.”
Just two days later, a familiar foe, the Roxbury Gaels, came to Randolph High School to face the Rams. Again, Randolph was on the short end of a 0-2 final (20-25, 19-25).
Roxbury took an early 10-3 lead in the first set, leading to a Randolph timeout. The Rams fought back to close the gap to four points in the middle of the set.
Middle-hitter Natalie Riback led the team with five kills in the two sets, combined.
The following week, the Rams headed up to Mount Olive to face the Marauders on the road. Mount Olive handed Randolph their third consecutive loss, sweeping the Rams 0-2 (17-25, 19-25).
Adrienne DeFuria started the first set off with a strong service run, however once the Marauders were able to seize control, Randolph was never able to re-gain the early momentum.
Coach Data made a change at the libero position, moving Megan Pinyan to a defensive specialist/setter role, and inserting Bryce McBride into the lineup at libero.
“I needed Meg [Pinyan] to play in the right-back position because she was a setter last year, she takes the ball well with her hands,” Data said, “It allows Elena [Rossetti] to hit in some of the serve-receive rotations.”
The team has improved on serve-receive, which ultimately will help set up good offensive sets to run.
DeFuria had her jump-serve going from the get-go, finishing with six service aces.
The Rams continued their road trip to Wayne Valley High School to face the Wayne Valley Indians on Friday, September 13. Randolph dropped the match 0-2 (15-25, 14-25).
Randolph lingered in the first set, but the height and experience for Wayne Valley ultimately took over.
A libero was not used at all in this match, as part of an experiment for Coach Data. “We wanted to try new girls in the back row, letting some of the girls play all the way around,” Data said.
Gabby Trinker racked up thirteen digs, while Juliet Castro tallied eight of her own. Coach Data said, “We worked in practice on defense, the only thing we didn’t do was adjust to their hitters.”
Randolph started the following week off against the Montville Mustangs. Randolph was bested by Montville 1-2 (23-25, 25-14, 22-25).
Three Rams racked up double-digits in kills – Adrienne DeFuria, Gabby Trinker, and Natalie Riback each had ten kills. Elena Rossetti was giving the Randolph hitters many chances. The Senior setter finished with thirty-seven assists.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, and with the set tied at 23-23, Montville was able to emerge as winners.
In set number two, the story was all Randolph. The Rams took an early 6-2 lead, forcing Montville to use a timeout. The Mustangs closed the gap to one point, however Randolph was able to take advantage of their opportunities on offense, coupled with solid defense in the second set.
In a decisive third set, Montville grabbed a 19-13 lead. After a Randolph timeout, Montville’s lead was cut to just two points. The Mustangs called a timeout and were able to hold off the Rams, to take the set and match.
One very important bright spot on the season so far is centered around Randolph Senior and Captain Adrienne DeFuria. The righty tallied her 50th career varsity-level service ace.
“It shows that I have put in a lot of work and I have a lot of confidence with my serve,” DeFuria said. Coach Data added, “she’s [DeFuria] got a nasty slice, I don’t know how anybody passes that.” Lots of spin on the ball, combined with the velocity of the swing, makes it very difficult for teams to defend on serve-receive.
Despite the wins not coming quite yet, one of Randolph’s Captains had some strong words about staying positive, “I think the most important part of volleyball is to play your best and have fun,” DeFuria said, “No matter if you win or lose, you’re not going to have a fun time if you’re not putting energy into it.”