Columbia HS girls’ volleyball impresses to start season

The Columbia HS Junior Varsity volleyball players pose for the season opener.
Photos courtesy of Laura Farrell.
The Columbia HS varsity players pose for the season opener.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – After the cancellation of the Sept. 6 match at Irvington (reschedule is still to be determined), Columbia High School girls’ volleyball finally got on court Saturday, Sept. 8 against West Essex. Columbia varsity fought a tough three-setter to win 25-17, 24-26, 25-20 and the Junior Varsity beat its counterpart in straight sets with a 25-21, 25-23 score. West Essex comes to Maplewood in the return fixture on Friday, Sept. 28.

Claire Salinardo, who normally plays as a defensive specialist, also played as the secondary setter due to Alyssa Nelson’s recently sustained ankle injury. She was named Player of the Match for varsity due to her outstanding court coverage. She racked up 11 assists and 14 digs and appeared to be everywhere on the court. Sophomore Zauri Wimberly, middle hitter, stood out for JV and earned Player of the Match for her dominant control of the net. She went 5 for 6 in kills and managed 4 solo blocks en route to the win.

Other standouts were: Shayla Keegan (Varsity, senior, middle blocker, 7 for 8 kills, 4 blocks), Jane Fleetwood (Varsity, sophomore, 7 for 10 kills, 6 aces), Abby Valente (Varsity, senior, libero, 2 kills, 20 digs), Grace Petroccia (Varsity, senior, setter, 18 assists, 2 kills, 3 aces), Kaijhe Hall (JV, sophomore, middle hitter, 4 kills, 4 blocks), and Jillian Canning (JV, freshman, opposite, outside hitter, 7 digs).

The varsity team defeated Payne Tech 25-13, 25-22 Sept. 12 at home. The JV lost in three sets. Payne Tech is the new school made from the merger of Bloomfield Tech and North 13th Street Tech.