SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood girls varsity volleyball completed their historic season with a three-set triumph over Colonia 25-18, 13-25, 25-16. With the win, the Raiders lay claim to their first state championship in volleyball.
The senior tandem of Adelina Berisha and Kaelie Chung, both captains, saved their best games for the title matchup. With the match knotted at 1 set apiece, Berisha, one of the top players in NJ, dominated the final game of her career. She finished with 24 kills, 1 block, 4 digs, 3 service points won and an ace. The senior finished her career with Hall of Fame numbers: 611 kills, 331 digs, 225 service points won and 125 aces.
Chung, put together a dominant stretch of serving to blow open the first game. She filled the stat sheet with 33 assists, 17 service points won, 11 digs and 4 aces. She closed out her career with 840 assists, 426 digs, 364 service points won and 142 aces.
The Raiders, who overcame many obstacles all season, had to play the title game without tri-captain and motivational leader, Lindsey Bartley, the team's setter, who was out with an injured ankle. Her backup, Chloe Shunke was unavailable as well, forcing junior Tori Cirillo to assume the important position of libero. Cirillo answered the bell and accounted for 7 digs and 2 assists, as she accumulated 15 digs, 13 service points won and 3 aces in the state tournament.
Junior Victoria Solsky
moved positions as part of the revamped lineup and recorded 3 digs. Alyssa Glickstein
, one of the team's top servers, won 2 points with an ace, accounting for 19 service points won and 6 aces during the 3 matches in the state tournament.
A troika of sophomores all came through as well: Abbey Balagot, shined with 9 digs and 3 kills, Melania Acampora had 4 kills, 3 digs and a block, while Morgan Kinard had 3 kills. Seniors, Kyra Antonello (2 kills, 1 block) and Maddie Yessman (1 kill) finished their high school careers with a title.
Coach Adrienne Stack's squad opened the season 2-3 before winning 10 of their final 11 games to close out their season with a 12-4 record and their first state crown.
"We lost our libero to injury on Saturday and our backup before the sectional tournament began. There was a lot of shuffling," Coach Stack told TAPintoSPF. "When things weren't going our way after losing the second set, I told them 'This set is done; you need to focus on the next set. With that, they started executing."
Coach Stack praised the play of two seniors: Kaelie Chung and Adelina Berisha, who set the tone in the third set.
"My team kept Kaelie on the line to serve. She had 33 assists and her passes were brilliant," Coach Stack said. "Adelina is a championship match athlete, the girls fed her. She turned it way up tonight and elevated the program to another level."
"It's just a remarkable night for a remarkable group of young women. With COVID, we never knew when we would be playing our last game, so we played every point like it was the last point," said Coach Stack, who won her first championship after 15 years of leading the team. "It propelled them to greatness. I am beyond proud of them."
Coach Stack is particularly proud that she was able to get everyone on board to believe that we as a program can do it.
"I told them that in life, you are going to have many moments that feel like that second set (when we were down). You have to rise in order to succeed," she said. "They will rise as young women; they have tenacity and fervor. It takes falling a little to realize how strong you are -- and my team is strong!"