Glen Rock quickly has established itself as the No. 2 girls’ volleyball team in the small-school North Jersey Interscholastic Conference, behind state power Bogota.

The Panthers have won their first seven matches in the NJIC, highlighted by Friday’s 25-20, 25-20 home victory over Rutherford that lifted them ahead of the defending champion and into first place in the Colonial Division.

“I want to take this program to the next level,” said first-year coach Matt Kingsley, a former assistant at Paramus, New Jersey’s winningest program.

Senior leadership is the reason Glen Rock swept its first six matches, Kingsley said, and on Monday outlasted Hawthorne in a three-setter. Setter Samantha Alba, middle/libero Alexa Aramburu and hitter Marissa Lemieux have led the way.

“Senior leadership has really set the tone for this year,” Kingsley said, “and for the future.”

Depth offers Glen Rock potential for a bright future. Sophomore hitter Meghan Donohue, a transfer from Immaculate Heart, the reigning tournament of champions titlist, has been a standout.

“She’s really solidified us on the outside,” Kingsley said of the 5-foot-7 Donohue, “and she’s going to be a big-time player in a couple of years.”

Glen Rock showed enough depth to defeat Rutherford without Donohue, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle. In Donohue’s absence, another sophomore hitter, Lee Maither, stepped in and stepped up.

The Group 1 Panthers lack size, but they serve, pass and defend well enough to compete with many teams from the large-school Big North Conference. Alba, senior hitter Abby Strassberg and junior Courtney Schmitt are their most effective servers.

“We grind out points, because sometimes things don’t go well, and you have to be able to grind out points, and find a way to make a play,” Kingsley said. “The girls have really bought into the system that we’re trying to teach.”

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