BY  MARK KRULISH – Bogota Bulletin
Bogota's Carly O'Sullivan tries to get this one past Immaculate Heart Academy's Jennifer Pagano (11) and Ashley Agnello (7) during an IHA win in the Tournament of Champions last November.

Bogota’s Carly O’Sullivan tries to get this one past Immaculate Heart Academy’s Jennifer Pagano (11) and Ashley Agnello (7) during an IHA win in the Tournament of Champions last November.

If the Bogota High School girls volleyball team wants to have a better season than last year, their only choice is capture the school’s first-ever Tournament of Champions title. Coming off a season in which head coach Brad DiRupo’s squad won 32 games and fell to Immaculate Heart Academy in the Tournament of Champions final, the Lady Bucs have reloaded and are ready to make another run at being New Jersey’s best volley team.

“Our goal is to win the state title, it never changes,” said DiRupo. We want to do well in the county tournament and the state tournament every year. We lost a good senior class, but I don’t expect much of a drop-off.”

Bogota will have to contend with the loss of two major forces in outside hitter Julia Topor, who is currently playing at University of Nevada Las Vegas, and setter Rebecca Kelemen.

Fortunately, the Lady Bucs still have the services of one of the state’s best all-around players, senior Carly O’Sullivan.

The numbers and accolades speak for themselves when it comes to O’Sullivan’s game. For her career, she has 1,166 kills, 848 service points and 502 digs. O’Sullivan led the entire state in kills as a sophomore with 430 and was named the North Jersey Player of the Year. In 2012, she had another outstanding season with 112 aces making her one of the most devastating servers in the state. She also racked up another 402 kills on her way to becoming an All-American. O’Sullivan has the chance to become the first athlete in Bogota High School’s history to be named an All-State player three times.

However, just because she is one of the most decorated athletes to ever don the purple and gold for Bogota does not mean she will not face any new challenges in her senior season.

With the departure of senior leaders such as Topor and Keleman, O’Sullivan will have to become a more vocal leader both on and off the court.

“She is generally a leader by example, but she is more vocal with the other players this year,” said DiRupo. “She has been doing a good job leading on and off the court. It’s funny, even though she is as senior she is still kind of growing up too. At first she wasn’t very comfortable with it, but now she’s getting more comfortable every day she has become a good leader for us.”

Along with O’Sullivan, libero Jennifer Ramirez and setter Cathleen Macoroy will serve as the captains for the 2013 season.

Bogota will see some new faces at key positions this year. Senior Brenda Curiel will be a key player for the Lady Bucs this year, moving to the outside hitter position. DiRupo said that she will be a force at the position and will help offset the loss of Topor to graduation. Junior Kelli Brown will move to the right side where she is also expected to have plenty of opportunities to score.

With O’Sullivan and Ramirez as the team’s two best passers, passing should be no problem for the Lady Bucs, and of course, they still have O’Sullivan’s outstanding skills as a server.

“If you can pass and serve, you’ll always be in the match,” said DiRupo. “I think a lot of people don’t expect us to be as good as we were last year, but we’re going to be very good once again. They’re working hard, and when you work hard good things happen. That’s the deal.”

The Lady Bucs open their season at the Jersey Classic Tournament at Paramus High School on Sept. 7 and then have a regular season match with their fiercest rival, Immaculate Heart Academy on Sept. 10 at IHA.

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