BLOOMFIELD, NJ – After a heart-wrenching, but exciting and evenly-matched three-set loss to Union the previous night, Columbia High School JV Volleyball started slowly, but regrouped to get to the Silver Bracket Final of the annual Bloomfield Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Composed largely of freshmen with club experience and sophomore and junior returners, CHS, captained by setters Hannah Brownstein, who is a junior, and sophomores Sophia Noll and Andrea Rebimbas dropped its first two pool matches to West Morris Central, 25-23, 25-18, and Montclair, 25-15, 25-10.
Things turned around, however, when CHS faced Governor Livingston of Berkeley Heights in the final group match of the day. Behind kills and blocks from sophomore middle blocker Kaijhe Hall, aces from sophomore opposite Lily Alvarez, and digs from libero Jenna Hayes, CHS dominated its opponent to win, 25-16, 25-9.
After all group matches were concluded and all 16 teams were seeded, CHS narrowly missed a spot in the Gold Bracket to Union.
Motivated by this double loss of sorts to UHS, Columbia barreled through the playoffs. CHS beat Arthur L Johnson High School of Clark, 25-22, in the quarterfinal round to set up a semifinal match with host Bloomfield. Bloomfield looked like it was pulling away, but CHS fought back to win, 25-20.
In the Silver Bracket Final, against Mount St. Mary Academy, the Watchung school pulled away to a 17-11 lead when they sent the ball out and CHS’ Alvarez was up to serve. She served a mix of aces that helped her club catch up and take the lead. In the end, however, the day was too long and the players too worn as CHS fell, 25-20.
Despite the loss, the players and their coach, Dave Crouch, were upbeat about how they improved as the day went on and how they ended the day. Of his team’s performance, Coach Crouch said, “Of course, a win would’ve been nice, but that’s not why we come to these tournaments. It’s about coming together, getting touches on the ball, being a team. We showed we can play with some of the top teams and we’ll build on that.”
Next up for CHS JV is a home match against Belleville on Monday, September 17 at 4 p.m.