River Dell, IHA make it an all-Bergen Tournament of Champions final by Greg Tartaglia of The Record
WAYNE – Logan Grebla’s final assist came after the volleyball match had ended.
The setter put up a career-high 19 in helping No. 2 seed River Dell knock off previously unbeaten Ridge, 25-23, 25-22, in Saturday’s State Tournament of Champions semifinals at the William Paterson Rec Center.
The Golden Hawks will face top-seeded Immaculate Heart for the title at 2 p.m. Sunday in the same arena.
As they left the main court and assembled on the auxiliary court to revel in reaching their first TOC final, Grebla and Emma Plutnicki embraced. Grebla then lifted the net high enough for Plutnicki to duck under with her crutches and join the celebration.
The duo had been setters in a 6-2 offense all season – until Plutnicki suffered a broken ankle in a practice with her club team on Tuesday.
“Throughout the season, watching Emma during practice and seeing everything she was doing, it just helped me a lot,” Grebla said. “I talked to her about what she thought I could do, and I talked to [hitters] Makayla [Serrett] and Sam [Grandich] to see what I could do to help them.”
“She’s already a setter, and she’s only a sophomore, so she doesn’t have that much experience,” River Dell senior Jenna Karpowich said. “Now we’re just running a 5-1, and she did great with it.”
Karpowich herself had been out of action for the Golden Hawks’ state-tournament run due to illness. Ironically, she was cleared to play the same day that Plutnicki was injured.
“It was a double whammy of mono and strep [throat],” said Karpowich, who tallied three kills and six digs. “I was out for three weeks, and last Thursday [Nov. 9] was my first practice back with the team… I was just so happy to be back with the team again and contribute what I could.”
Karpowich and Serrett combined for the game-point block in the first set. Serrett ended with six kills, and Grandich has a team-high nine to go along with nine digs.
No. 3 Ridge, the Group 4 champion, finished 26-1. The Red Devils got 15 assists and five digs from senior setter Zoe Pan.
River Dell versus IHA will be the fourth straight TOC title match pitting two Bergen County teams against each other and the eighth all-time. The NJSIAA began the Tournament of Champs in 2002.
No. 1 IMMACULATE HEART 25-25, No. 4 VERONA 15-17: The Blue Eagles (39-1) advanced to the final for the seventh straight season. The won four straight from 2011-14 and finished runner-up to NV/Old Tappan each of the past two seasons.
Senior middle Colette Petric (six kills) served four aces, two of which capped a 7-0 IHA run late in the first set. Verona (31-1) was within 15-13 in the first set and 16-14 in the second before the Blue Eagles pulled away.
Sophomore middle Anna Morris had three blocks and tied Catherine Fazio for the team lead with seven kills.
No. 4 VERONA 21-25-25, No. 5 NV/OLD TAPPAN 25-10-20: Saturday’s tripleheader began with an outbracket match between the Hillbillies and the two-time reigning TOC champs.
Sophomore Gianna Fasano (seven kills, five digs) and junior Camryn Monfried (five kills, eight digs) led the way for the Golden Knights (19-4). The tandem of Verona middles Hunter Coppola and Carly Waterman proved too much to overcome.
Coppola was dominant with 19 kills and five blocks. Waterman added 11 kills, including the match-winner, and 10 service points.