Girls’ volleyball aces their way to group semifinal

Nate Mulberg ('10)/Eastside Sports Editor

First there were 32. Now there are 4 and the Cougars are one of them.  Today, Tuesday, November 10, 2009, East’s girls’ varsity volleyball team won their third round New Jersey Group IV Playoff match 26-28, 25-23, 25-19 when they made the two hour trip to Livingston, NJ to take on fourth seeded Livingston High School. With the win, the fifth seeded Cougars, who have a starting lineup of all seniors, are now one of four teams out of thirty- two original playoff teams remaining in the State Group IV Playoffs.

The first set of the match was back and forth the entire game, with both teams trading points consistently. Eventually, Livingston came out on top 28-26. The second game of the match was not much different than the first, as both teams kept the score close. At one point, Livingston went on a run and put together a five point lead over the Cougars. At this point, it looked as if Livingston might take the match 2-0 over the Cougars and end their season. But East managed to keep their composure and fight back to win the second game 25-23.

“In practice we always practice coming back from being down, so we were used to it. But it was still a lot of pressure because if we lost the second game our season would have been over. The fact that we are all seniors also helped us because we knew if we didn’t come back and win, our high school careers would be over,” said East setter Yael Einhorn (’10)

After managing to come back and win the second set, East had a ton of momentum and used it to take complete control of the match. With the Cougars having a 24-19 lead and a match point, East middle hitter Jess Smith (’10) stepped to the service line to serve for the match victory. According to Smith, she was just trying “to get the serve over” the net. But Smith did much more than that as she served an ace and cemented the playoff victory for East.

“I was really nervous because the whole gym was screaming. I was thinking I just had to get the serve over but it was a great feeling when I saw it was an ace. I couldn’t believe it,” said Smith.

With the win, the Cougars move on to the semi-finals where they will play the number one seed of the tournament, Bridgewater-Raritan (Bridgewater). The Cougars know Bridgewater quite well as Bridgewater beat the Cougars in the playoffs in 2006 and 2008. Three current players on East’s starting roster, Smith and outside hitters Anna Johnson (’10) and Marissa Johnson (’10) (no relation), played in the 2008 game versus Bridgewater. This year, the Cougars look to avenge their previous two defeats.

“It’s a big rivalry between us [and Bridgewater-Raritan]. It would be awesome to finally beat them after they took us out of the tournament twice. They are also the number one team in the tournament so it would be really cool to take out the number one team,” said Smith.

The semi-final match is scheduled to take place at Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough, NJ on Thursday, November 12 at 7:00 PM.