The Lady Bulldogs lost in three games a couple of weeks ago against the Golden Hawks and were ousted from the Bergen County Tournament last season.
With a lot of incentives on their side, the Lady Bulldogs battled hard and picked up the victory in two straight games, 25-22, 26-24.
For Rutherford it was the one-two punch of Erin Moss and Jessica Rogers who were able to give the Lady Bulldogs its offense with 13 kills each. And it was senior setter Karolina Kopacz, who is Rutherford‘s all-time leader in assists, fed Moss and Rogers with 28 assists.
Moss chipped in a dozen digs for the Lady Bulldogs who faced top-seeded Blue Eagles on Tuesday (after press deadline) in the county quarterfinals.
In the last match between the two schools, Rutherford had won the first game, 26-24, only to see River Dell come back and win the match by taking the last two games.
But this time Rutherford would not let River Dell repeat the regular season match.
It was not easy, though.
After Rutherford took the first game, 25-22, the Lady Bulldogs saw River Dell jump out to an 12-4 lead and it looked like the match was headed to a third game.
The Lady Golden Hawks were just simply serving by the Rutherford defense.
“She was saying that we can’t let one server score on us,” said Rutherford senior outside hitter Moss about their coach Helen Antzoulides telling them at a timeout. “We had to get our head back into the game.”
With Antzoulides cajoling her team to pick up their game, the Lady Bulldogs accommodated their coach.
Kopacz said that she knew the finger was being pointed at her after the slow start for the second game. And the senior knew she had to get the team going.
“I took it that I had to flip the switch,” said Kopacz.
After being down eight Rutherford went on an 8-0 run as the Lady Bulldogs took advantage of some Golden Hawks miscues to slice the River Dell lead to 12-11.
After that both teams went back-and-forth before Rutherford finally caught the Golden Hawks after a Moss smash to tie the game at 19.
Then Moss hit another shot by the River Dell to give the Lady Bulldogs its first lead of the second game, 21-20. Moss would get another shot by the Golden Hawks to give Rutherford a 24-20 lead and one point from clinching the match.
But River Dell did not give up and scored four answered points to tie the game at 24. Jordan DeCesare would put the exclamation point on the match with a kill to move Rutherford to the quarterfinals.
In addition to moving on in the county tournament, the Lady Bulldogs took home the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference Colonial Division championship last week.
Rogers and Moss notched seven and six kills each while Kopacz collected 15 assists in the Colonial victory.