Fair Lawn Wins Sectional Final, Heads to Tournament of Champions
Fair Lawn avenged its county tournament loss to Don Bosco in the finals of the state sectionals on Friday.
Defending state champion Fair Lawn got its revenge Friday in the boys volleyball state sectional final against Don Bosco.
The Cutters (35-4), who fell at home to the Ironmen (24-5) two weeks ago in the Bergen County Tournament championship, weren't going to let Bosco celebrate another title on their home court Friday. They ousted the Ironmen in two games, 25-22, 25-14, growing stronger as the match went on.
"We definitely were playing with a greater sense of urgency and a chip on our shoulder and something to prove," coach Peter Zisa said after the match. "We tried to have the underdog mentality going into the match and I thought the kids fought hard and I'm just happy that we came out on top."
In their previous loss to Bosco, Fair Lawn had been without two of its top players and leaders -- junior Chris Nugent (high ankle sprain) and senior Luke St. John (concussion) -- who sat out with injuries.
Neither was feeling well enough to practice Thursday, but both fought through the pain to play Friday. Having them back on the floor against Bosco made all the difference.
"Not only did I have their passing and their offensive ability from the outside, but it also allowed my other players that had to play out of position [in the previous match] go back to normal positions," Zisa said. "So my third or fourth best option could go play back at opposite which enabled us to have offense from all sides of the net."
Nugent made an immediate impact in his return Friday, recording a dominating 11 kills in the first game. When Bosco tried to take him out of the second game, Fair Lawn picked up its defense and turned to Brendan Sibilio, who came up with five kills from the opposite position.
With Friday's win, Fair Lawn advances to the Tournament of Champions, the state high school volleyball equivalent of the Final Four. On Tuesday, they'll face off against Central Jersey Cinderella Cinnaminson, who is coming off back-to-back victories against top seeded St. Joseph Metuchen and second-seeded Christian Brothers Academy en route to a Central Jersey sectional title.
Fair Lawn has beaten Cinnaminson twice this season, most recently in the Super Six Showdown a few weekends ago.
"They've played a lot of close matches and just come up a little bit short," Zisa said of the Pirates, the only team standing in the Cutters' way of a repeat trip to the state title game. "Apparently they have things gelling now and are on the positive end of those matches that they were losing."
Zisa called Cinnaminson a "very formiddable opponent," and said the Pirates boasted a very athletic and composed squad with arguably the best middle blocker in the state in senior Kyle Pottieger.
"Afer beating St. Joe's and CBA on the road, obviously, they're playing with the utmost confidence. It's going to be a good game."
Southern Regional, the tournament favorite and No. 1-ranked team in the state, faces Bayonne in the other state semifinal match.