Simply the best: Volleyball is top team in New Jersey


Facing match point, the Old Tappan volleyball players knew their season was on the line. Still, despite a possible defeat, the team stayed relaxed and collected. In fact, the girl’s volleyball team had to face match point not only once but multiple times in their thrilling victory against Immaculate Heart Academy.

According to head coach Melissa Landeck, this composure in the face of adversity “went a long way in helping us play our best under pressure and come out with the win.” More than just visible on the court, this calmness was evident in the tight set scores of 17-25, 25-20, and 29-27.

However, the game did not always go the girls’ way. After dropping the first set, the team had to rally. According to junior defensive specialist Elizabeth Chu, the team “did a really good job not giving up after that rough first set.”

From there on out, it was a defensive battle. Elizabeth Chu, senior captain outside hitter Maya Illovsky, and sophomore libero Kelly Chen combined for more than fifty digs. According to Landeck, this defense “played a big part in the win.”

Other key players included senior setter Becky Chu who logged 30 assists. Similarly, junior middle blocker Julia Passante contributed 16 kills. Illovsky also had 14 kills to go along with her 22 digs.

In the end, the girls pulled out the victory and won the Tournament of Champions, making them the best team in all of New Jersey. According to Elizabeth Chu, this victory “is just the perfect way to go out.”

According to Landeck, the final game was indicative of their season as a whole. Despite the circumstances, the girls were able to play with the cards they were dealt. During the season, the team had to adjust to major injuries including to senior captains Illovsky and Becky Chu. Senior opposite hitter Corinne Issa and junior setter Madelyn Pulver also missed time. Landeck said, “A big credit to this team is that we had several lineup changes due to injuries or extenuating circumstances.”

As a result of these injuries, the girls at times struggled and were forced to make changes throughout the season. However, Landeck said, these changes never phased the girls. She said, “No matter what change we made at any point, or which players it involved, the team responded very well, and continued to play consistently well.”

One of these major changes came after the team’s loss to Riverdell in the semifinals of the Bergen County Tournament. Chu said, after that game, “that was a turning point in our season. As a team, we agreed to never feel that feeling again.”

How the girls came together after this loss shows the true character of the team. Landeck called the team “a true team” that “puts the team ahead of themselves and did whatever was asked of them.”