The NorthJersey.com local sports reporters are looking back on the greatest games the region has ever seen. We’re inviting coaches and former athletes to share their best memories too.
Before Beth Del Vecchio became athletic director at Cresskill in 1999, she had a successful run as an AD and multi-sport coach at Paramus Catholic.
Del Vecchio coached the Paladins’ girls volleyball team from 1987 to 1994 and reached the Group 4 final all eight years.
Del Vecchio won five Group championships, as well as five Bergen County titles. Her choice for her most memorable victory in NorthJersey.com’s “Greatest Games” series is her first of those 10 crowns, the Group 4 title in 1988.
“It was so exciting,” said Del Vecchio, who created a stir a decade earlier by playing on the boys’ soccer team at Saddle Brook High School via Title IX. “Volleyball was not even my sport, so it was all very new to me, and I was still learning. I was really becoming a student of the game.”
Paramus Catholic’s 1988 team picked up steam as the season progressed, an unseeded squad reaching the Bergen County final, then the No. 5 seed rallied to win the Group 4 crown over Hackensack, 13-15, 15-9, 15-1. That earned Del Vecchio Coach of the Year by the Bergen County Women Coaches Association.
“It was really an exciting time, because no one really expected anything from us, and we just, as the season went on, kept doing so well. And those are the best times, when no one really expects anything from you, and then all of a sudden you rise up out of nowhere and you go on this roll.”
The Paladins only had two senior starters in their 6-2 attack, setter/hitters Susan Hardek and Karen Rupich. Hardek was the primary setter, a communicative and emotional leader who had 114 sets in the three games. Rupich saved her emotion until after the match and had 59 kills under the old side-out rule in which only the serving team could score a point.
“Sue, by far, she dictated everything. And they just complemented one another, because Rupich was more of your quiet leader who did by example, whereas Sue, she did by example, and verbally, and she was so outgoing.”