IHA rallies to reclaim Jersey Classic title by Greg Tartaglia of The Record

Immaculate Heart remembered the way things went in last season’s Jersey Classic girls volleyball tournament at Paramus.

That had a lot to do with how the Blue Eagles played in the 2017 edition of the event, and it ultimately spurred them to the Gold Bracket championship, 25-23 over Ramapo, on Saturday.

Ramapo defeated IHA in the Gold final a year ago by taking an early lead and hanging on. This time, when the Green Raiders jumped out in front, the Blue Eagles were able to rally all the way back.

“They were winning by at least 10 at one point, and we’d used both time outs,” IHA coach Maria Nolan said in a phone interview. “The girls were actually trying too hard… they really wanted to get it done this year.”

The Blue Eagles were seeded second in the Gold Bracket and beat No. 7 Union Catholic in the quarterfinals and No. 3 River Dell in the semifinals. Against No. 1 Ramapo in the one-set final, they got to game point at 24-22 and were able to put it away after the Green Raiders got within one.

“It’s a great way to start the season,” Nolan said. “Our plans are to just keep building on it.”

Immaculate Heart dropped its first set of pool play against Westfield, as it was without seniors Catherine Fazio and Kaela Wong for the first two games due to ACT exams. Fortunately for the Blue Eagles, both girls were able to take the tests at Paramus High School and rejoin the team immediately afterward.

“Catherine is a really strong leader, and we were missing that in the first two games,” Nolan said.

The coach credited “different players at different times” for helping IHA to reclaim the title it last won two years ago.

“Julia Morris set well all day,” Nolan noted. “Colette Petric was a strong threat at the net, and even her serving got us going. [OH] Sydney Taylor really┬ácame through when we needed great plays. And our libero Erica [Timpanaro] and [middle] Anna Morris really improved.”

In the Silver Bracket final, top-seeded Ridgewood bested host and No. 3 seed Paramus.