Bloomfield HS boys’ volleyball team notches impressive wins to remain unbeaten at 14-0

BLOOMFIELD – After 14 matches, the Bloomfield High School boys’ varsity volleyball team had a perfect 14-0 record.

While most of those matches have been against teams that were winnable, Bengals head coach Louis Stevens knew his squad received a big test this past week as BHS had two wins against very strong opponents in Old Bridge and North 13th St. Tech, with the latter coming in the Essex County Tournament semifinals.

“I am happy with the start,” Stevens said. “Sure the majority of our schedule was against some of the easier teams we took care of business and won the matches we were supposed to.  Earlier in the year, we beat Livingston and this week we won two big matches against Old Bridge, a very good team that was ranked 12th in the state, and North 13th St., who had just one loss and that was against Livingston.”

In the win against Old Bridge, Stevens said his team used a strategy that utilized its biggest strengths.

“Against Old Bridge, who plays in one of the best conferences in the state, we wanted to establish our middles to free up the outsides. Al-Samad Henderson, our middle blocker, had a big match with three kills and he helped us attack their defense with Kalil Naouai our offensive leader, who recorded 14 kills. As he goes, we go, but unlike in the past, this year we have other players who can step up and we definitely have a supporting cast around him.”

Two of those players who have played a strong supporting role has been sophomore Kyle Barrow and senior Andy Murillo.

“They can attack aggressively and they give us a nice balance,” said the coach.

In the team’s next match, Stevens said his third-seeded Bengals advanced to the ECT championship with the triumph against second-seeded North 13th St.

“That was a big win for us and it was good to beat them in their own stadium for the county semifinals,” he said. “I give them credit. They are well-coached and (the North 13th St. Tech coach) has done a really nice job with that program. You need to play well to beat them and we played tremendously well. We had about 10 blocks in two games versus them and had 24 kills. Noel Shaji had a big match for us, along with Al, Kalil and Kyle. Our offense was very strong.”

Stevens, whose Bengals have won four ECT titles in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010, said his squad would face a nice challenge against fellow rival Livingston, which has won six county championships since 2005.

In fact, Bloomfield, which has never lost a county championship, defeated Livingston in three of its four county finals.

Notably, the team’s lone other county title was against Newark East Side.

Looking ahead, BHS will be busy this week with matches against North 13th St., Golda Och, Science Park and then Livingston on Friday, May 6, in the ECT championship at Bloomfield High School at 7 p.m.

“We have a busy week this week but that’ll definitely been good for the team,” said the coach.