SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Secaucus broke Bogota’s stranglehold on Group 1 girls volleyball.
The top-seeded Patriots showed greater energy and emotion and won the Group 1 title with a 25-22, 25-15 victory over the four-time defending champion Bucs on Saturday.
“I feel like we deserved it,” said senior hitter Julia McClure. “We played with heart.”
Secaucus (32-1) was playing for its state-record 19th group title but first since 2006. An empty space on the team’s championship banner was an agitating reminder how long the Patriots had gone without a title, and coach Sheila Rivera quipped, “Can we just fill that hole on the [banner]?”
McClure led Secaucus by finding the hole in Bogota’s defense. McClure had 18 kills, with almost half coming on well-placed tips into the center of the Bucs’ defense.
“Their defense was set on protecting the corners,” said McClure, who led the team with 11 digs, “and the whole middle strip was open. I knew if I put it over the blocker deep enough it would be open every time.”
Secaucus never trailed during a match in which the officials repeatedly had to check and recheck the score and change it. Bogota, which received nine kills from senior Kelli Brown, could not match the Patriots’ emotion.
“They were just better today,” Bogota coach Brad DiRupo said. “They got to more balls, their offense was better than ours, their defense was better than ours. I don’t think we played as well as we could have, but they deserved to win.”