Demarest tops Rutherford for Group 2 championship by Greg Tartaglia of The Record
WAYNE — NV/Demarest got its measure of revenge and a state title to go with it.
The No. 3 seed Norsewomen swept No. 1 Rutherford, 25-13, 25-9, to win the Group 2 girls volleyball championship Saturday at the William Paterson Rec Center.
The Bulldogs had upset NV/Demarest in the Bergen County tournament Round of 16 last month, 13-25, 26-24, 25-16, when the Norsewomen were without injured middle Gianna Arias.
With the lineup back at full strength, coach Beth Powell’s team showed what it was capable of, collecting its 10th state championship. NV/Demarest had lost in the finals twice in the past three years since its last title in 2014.
“It’s not that it’s been a long drought, it’s that to come here and lose is so hard for any team,” Powell said. “And because of the last couple times when we lost, it feels like a breakthrough.”
As they did in the first go-around, the Norsewomen (20-4) won the first set. But whereas Rutherford was able to regroup in the county meeting, NV/Demarest didn’t let that happen this time around.
“If you told me in August that our goal was to be here,” Bulldogs coach Helen Antzoulides said as she shook her head, “our goal was to get through each week.
“What we’ve accomplished is greater than what anybody could ever imagine,” Antzoulides said.
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In this case, it was a key run. The second set got off to a slow start because of a discrepancy at the scorer’s table, which led to one of NV/Demarest’s points being overturned by an out-of-rotation call.
The Norsewomen responded by scoring 16 of the next 17 points, including 12 straight to boost their lead to 20-5. Liz Park served three aces during the spree.
“[In the county tournament] we were just overconfident and started pressing,” said NV/Demarest setter Alicia Iafrate, who had 25 assists. “So this time, we really focused on making sure we were ready to fight for it.”
By the numbers
► The Norsewomen improved to 10-8 all-time in state finals. They are now 3-5 in Group 2 title matches and 7-3 in Group 3.
► Rutherford finished 29-2, posting the most wins in a single season in program history.
► NV/Demarest outside hitters Sedona Gaard and Sydney Woods logged six kills apiece, and Gaard added a pair of blocks.
► Jenna Rogers had five kills and a block for the Bulldogs, while Emilia McCarthy added nine digs.
They said it
“This is so important to us [seniors], because every time we’d been here before, we lost. We all wanted it so much … this is a completely crazy, new feeling for us.” – Iafrate