SPARTA, NJ -On Saturday, the No. 4 seed Sparta High School girls varsity volleyball team took on No. 28 seed Governor Livingston High School in the NJSIAA Group 2 quarterfinals. After a rough start, the Spartans rebounded and won the match 2-1 (15-25, 25-15, 25-17).
In the first set, Governor Livingston jumped out to a fast start, grasping a 5-1 lead. Sparta was inconsistent on serve-receive, which led to their hitters not getting many great chances to put the ball down.
Sparta just couldn’t seem to find a rhythm, as they got crushed in the first set by the score of 15-25.
Then the tables turned.
Coach Derek Hall got the team refocused, and Sparta jumped out to a early 7-1 lead, capped off by an ace by MacKenzie Wiggins.
“We were able to reset,” Hall said, “once we got a good start, our confidence started to get up.”
An 11-3 run in the middle of the set put Sparta in full control, taking a 19-12 lead.
MacKenzie Wiggins, a Junior outside hitter for Sparta, turned it on and carried Sparta to a definitive set two victory.
‘Kenzie’, as dubbed by her teammates, made one big change after the first set— “Mentality, mostly,” Wiggins said, “with energy comes adrenaline, and with adrenaline comes points.”
After hanging with Governor Livingston early on in the third set, Sparta scored five points in-a-row, sandwiched by a Governor Livingston timeout.
Defense was key in the third set, knowing that Sparta needed to maintain a healthy lead, or else their season was at risk of being over.
Governor Livingston tried to make a comeback late in the set, but Martina Foy and Daniella Abbasante had other plans, racking up a handful of blocks.
The Highlanders make one final bid in the closing stages of the third, however their attempt at a comeback fell short, with Sparta taking the third set and the match.
The strong season continues for Sparta, and the team is definitely enjoying the run. “It’s been amazing, especially coming to a new state and having all these new friends,” MacKenzie Wiggins said, “It’s just been so fun.” Wiggins is a native of Texas and has fit in just fine with her new set of teammates. The Junior finished the match with 24 kills, along with 9 digs—both were team-highs.
Defense was an all-around team effort, with Brooke Serovich recording nine digs as well, while Autumn Nady and Alexis Smernoff each chipped in with six apiece. Abbasante brought the roof, tallying five blocks, while Martina Foy added three of her own.
Setter Brooke Serovich was on top of her game and gave her hitters great chances to put the ball down. Serovich dished out 27 assists during the match.
The Spartans will take on top-seeded Rutherford on the road this coming Wednesday at 5:00pm, with a chance to play in the NJSIAA Group 2 championship game.
Coach Hall said, “The three games in five days is always tough, I think we’re ready and hopefully we will have a good practice.” Hall is confident that the team will be ready to go on Wednesday.