ROXBURY, NJ — Updated version. Coming off a “very strong” practice on Saturday morning, the Roxbury High School volleyball team was ready for the state tournament, said its coach on Monday.

He was right.

The team began “states” play at home later in the day and handily defeated Wayne Hills 25-9 and 25-14 to move forward in the tournament. It marked the fourth consecutive time Roxbury beat Wayne Hills, which had emerged April 10 with a victory over West Milford.

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The Gaels' next challenge comes Wednesday when they take on Tenafly.

Gaels coach Anthony McMichael said the first round of states couldn’t come at a better time for the 10-2 team. “Our team is peaking right now,” he said. “We had an emotional victory over a very talented Mendham team on Friday evening, and we followed that match with a very strong practice on Saturday morning.”

The coach noted the team’s sophomore setter, Lorie Horta, “has done a phenomenal job with running our offense and distributing the ball to many different hitters.” He also said Horta’s sets often yield satisfying responses from her teammates.

“This Roxbury team has the most wide-open offense that I have seen in my years with the program,” McMichael observed. “Across the net, I am always confident that Lorie can find kills on the left to Quinn Longo and Victoria Latino, on the right to Sammy Olander and to the middle with Juliana Medini and Mia Capriglione. We have a dynamic group of hitters who can get kills at any time.”

He said the Gaels’ defense has settled into a good rhythm as well. “Bella Chan anchors a really strong defense as our libero, and our back-court is always finding ways to transition attacked balls into offensive opportunities for our hitters.”

The coach is hopeful that the team will cap off its COVID-delayed season with great performances in the states. “It's always fun to play in the State Tournament and to compete with schools from different counties and areas of New Jersey,” he added.

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