Friday, July 5, 2013

The Senior Spotlight is a look at 50 rising seniors who could make an impact in the upcoming 2013-14 school year.

Carly O’Sullivan has walked the walk for three years, and now the rising senior from Bogota also must talk the talk.

The two-time first team All-North Jersey hitter has been asked to become more of a vocal leader as the new-look Bucs challenge for a fourth consecutive state Group 1 girls volleyball title.

“We need her to step up in the leadership category, because she’s a very quiet kid and she leads by example,” coach Brad DiRupo said. “We need her to be a little more vocal, which she’s starting to do. It’s out of character for her.”

“I’m going to try my best to be louder,” O’Sullivan said, “because I’m not a loud person, so it’s difficult.”

Quietly, O’Sullivan has helped transform Bogota into a state power. Last season, the Bucs became the first Group 1 school to win the Bergen County title, and they reached the finals of the Tournament of Champions.

O’Sullivan is one of only three key returnees from last year’s squad, so her vocal chords will be every bit as important as her hitting, serving and passing.

“This summer we’re really going to focus on building our team and making a strong bond between our teammates,” said O’Sullivan, whose Bucs are currently competing at the four-day Penn State Team Camp against squads from the Garden State, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland. “We still have good chemistry. We just need to work on it more.”

O’Sullivan has done as much, if not more, than any New Jersey volleyball player over the previous three years. The 5-foot-8 right-hander might be the Garden State’s most versatile player. She’s demonstrated her varied skills with career totals of 1,166 kills, 502 digs and 848 service points.

“I think she’ll be even better than she’s been the past three years, which is scary,” DiRupo said.

“Physically, she’s more mature, and I expect her to again be an All-State player.”

The graduation of seven seniors from a 34-3 team forces O’Sullivan to be more aggressive in the fall. The graduation of Julia Topor, a 6-1 hitter who earned first team All-North Jersey honors and a scholarship to Nevada-Las Vegas, adds to O’Sullivan’s workload.

“I’m trying to work on hitting to different spots, and hitting harder,” said O’Sullivan, who is being recruited by several Division I and II schools ranging from Virginia to Caldwell.

“My passing, I need to stay low and get to balls. Serving, I’m going to try something different this year.”

O’Sullivan doesn’t mind the pressure that comes from being a senior at a program expected to remain among the state’s best.

“I feel like there’s always pressure, but it’s a good pressure,” O’Sullivan said, “because we all want to win a state title, we all want to go to counties, so it’s an incentive.”