SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Union Catholic volleyball team is headed to the Non-Public State Championship match for the second year in a row after defeating Dwight-Englewood in two sets to capture its second straight NJSIAA Section B Non-Public Championship on Wednesday night.
UC's 25-13, 25-19 triumph over Dwight-Englewood is the 19th straight victory for the Vikings and raised its season record to 30-1. It's just the second time in school history that the program has reached 30 wins in a season under longtime coach Nancy Saggio, who was honored before the match when a banner commemorating her 500 career victories was unveiled.
Union Catholic, ranked No. 3 in the state, will now clash again with nemesis Immaculate Heart Academy in the State Non-Public Championship at 12:00 Noon on Saturday at William Paterson University. IHA, the No. 1 team in the state, defeated Union Catholic in the final last year and dealt UC its only loss this season in two sets on Sept. 28.
After dominating the opening set vs. Dwight-Englewood, UC was clinging to a 12-10 lead in the second set before going on a 7-2 run to open a 19-12 lead. Seniors Alexandra Kwasnik and Olivia Szyszkiewicz, who each had two kills during that surge, led the charge for UC by combining for 23 kills and 15 service points in the match.
Szyszkiewicz said UC is clicking on all cylinders right now.
"Dwight-Englewood is a really good team, and we came out here knowing we had to come out really strong and play our game, and weshowed that we are a really dominant force, a force to be reckoned with,'' said Szyszkiewicz.
Szyszkiewicz said there's a different mindset going up against IHA this time, and that the Vikings are confident they can pull off the upset and capture its first state title since 2005.
"Yes, IHA is a great team, but so are we,'' said Szyszkiewicz. "We have an amazing team, and I think we can pull it off this time.''
UC gained an extra boost of confidence when IHA had its 90-match unbeaten streak vs.N.J. teams snapped earlier this month by Old Tappan in the Bergen County Championship.UC beat Old Tappan in two sets last month.
"We feel they are beatable,'' said Saggio. "We are a better team than we were last year and we are really in sync right now. This team is right up there with the best I've ever had. We only won 30 matches one other time when we won the state title.''