Harrison boys volleyball celebrates its first ever Hudson County title. (Photo courtesy of Yueh Ho)
Championship games often come down to which team is the more fundamentally sound. This year that honor fell to Harrison, who played enough mistake-free volleyball to beat Bayonne in two straight sets by the score of 25-13 and 25-14.
“It’s our first Hudson County championship ever. It’s my (first) as a coach too, so this is amazing. We set goals at the beginning of the season, this was one of them.” Harrison head coach Nick Landy said.
Harrison’s tenacity on defense was most evident in a score it made halfway through the second set. Junior Frank Contreras made a diving save to prevent a Bayonne kill, senior outside hitter David Penaherrera then set the ball up in the air while falling backwards. The ball was a bit high and junior outside hitter Gerson Pachas was able to just barely tip the ball over the net, just out of reach of Bayonne defenders.
It was this tenacity that allowed Harrison to overcome Bayonne’s strong 5-0 run to start the game and outscore Bayonne 25-8 the rest of the first set, which gave Harrison the momentum to rout Bayonne in the second set as well.
Bayonne did an excellent job containing Harrison premier junior hitter Piotr Namiotko. Every time Namiotko went up for a resounding spike he saw two, and sometimes three, Bayonne defenders ready to block him.
But championship teams never rely on just one player. Namiotko may have been contained, but the rest of the team picked up the production. Most notably, senior outside hitter David Penaherrera led Harrison in kills with nine.
“The last couple of games we really played together well as a team. We have a few weapons out there,” Landy said. “We knew they were gonna double block him, triple block him, so we made sure everyone else did the job they were supposed to do.”
Setter Jimmy Vega had a strong performance for the Blue Tide with 18 assists. Penaherrera and Frank Contreras both recorded seven digs each for Harrison.
Senior Benjamin Kim had a strong defensive performance for Bayonne, recording 14 digs.
Tonight, Harrison will celebrate making program history, but tomorrow it will begin looking towards greater glory: the sectional title.
“Thursday we start the state playoffs, we’re looking for the sectional title, we’re gonna go one game at a time and see where we get to. We’re 25-2 right now, it’s our best record ever in the history of our program, so we’re ready to go,” Landy said.
Penaherrera echoed his coach’s statements. He’s already ready for the state tournament.
“Sectionals and beyond,” he said. “That’s all we’re looking for now.”