H.S. girls volleyball: Passaic Valley, Clifton sweep way into Passaic County final
CLIFTON – Passaic Valley carries the persona of a veteran team seeking a third consecutive Passaic County tournament championship.
The senior-laden Hornets swept Wayne Valley in the semifinals, 25-15, 25-23, Wednesday night at Clifton. They will face top-seeded Clifton, which swept DePaul, for the county volleyball title Saturday night at Lakeland.
Passaic Valley’s strength is its ability to shake off a bad play or two and stay confident. A team with eight seniors has done extremely well in tight do-or-die county tournament matches.
“We’ve come to take on that mentality,” Passaic Valley coach Bill Robertazzi said. “That’s the way they talk, and that’s the way I talk to them. Whatever it is, we just have to battle and not be affected by the point, the situation, the team, the court.”
“It’s a big confidence boost winning the last two,” said All-Passaic senior libero Taylor Humes, “because we know with eight seniors, we can come back and do it again.”
All-North Jersey senior hitter Tina Predojevic did it again for third-seeded Passaic Valley (15-5). She is the centerpiece of the Hornets and delivered 20 kills, including the clincher against No. 2 Wayne Valley (12-9).
Hornets senior setter Kendall Murphy had 24 assists, and Humes had 21 digs. Humes’ diving dig in the second set led to a Predojevic kill that gave Passaic Valley a 23-22 lead.
“I think our focus was to not take any point for granted,” said Predojevic, “so we were going to work hard for every single point, and not just the first one or the last one.”
In the first set, Passaic Valley gained control with a 9-2 run to extend its lead to 21-13. Predojevic had four kills during the spurt.
In the second set, Wayne Valley played markedly better, with senior Erin Azer (team highs of seven kills and 11 digs) producing six kills. But Predojevic answered with 11 kills, and her return to the front row for the final few points was a difference-maker.
“Too little, too late,” Wayne Valley coach Jason Carcich said. “Obviously in Game 1 we didn’t come out and do what we wanted to do, and they’ve got a lot of firepower.”
“I’m just so proud of us continuing to play hard and continuing to play confident,” Robertazzi said, “and like I’ve said a couple of years in a row, for not being affected by the situation.”