Tenafly gets past Pascack Valley

HILLSDALE – Tenafly’s volleyball team improved to 8-3 on the season with a 25-21, 25-20 straight sets victory over Pascack Valley Tuesday afternoon.

“It was a good match,” said Tenafly junior outside hitter Brittany Amtman. “It was head-to-head the whole time. My team worked hard. Our coach pushes us hard, just as much as their coach pushes them. Pascack Valley has an amazing coach and I know a bunch of the girls from the team because I play club with them. It’s always a fun match when you play against girls you know.”

The match was close throughout. In the first set the Lady Tigers jumped out to a 9-3 lead on a kill by sophomore middle hitter Angelina Tapia.

“I have two sophomores, Angelina (Tapia) and Lily [Feingold], my libero,” said Tenafly coach Jeff Koehler. “We changed the libero about 3-4 games ago and Lily is now libero and she's just been on fire. As far as the program goes, with two sophomores, that's pretty nice. And JV has about three four more sophomores and a bunch of juniors so at least we're going to be pretty competitive the next couple years.”

Valley fought back with a rally, highlighted by a block and kill by senior middle blocker Hannah Linton. The teams traded points and the Indians tallied consecutive points on a kill by junior Emma Kropp and service ace by senior Devin Martinez to tie the game, 15-15.

Then the Tigers went on a mini run thanks to a pair of kills by Amtman and a blast by co-captain Susan Wie.

“Last year I didn’t get much time playing varsity,” said Amtman.  “But like everyone else if you work hard enough you can finally get there. So I’ve been getting more playing time and it feels rewarding.”

“Today was the first time she started both games,” Koehler said of Amtman. “Brittany has been on. When she is on she could almost single-handedly win the game by herself. I’ve seen it on the JV level and it's something she's doing now at the varsity level. She has a great arm whip. The best part about Brittany, and I would be shocked if she's not a captain next year, is that she's such a team player.”

Once again Valley fought back to forge a 20-20 tie on another smash by Kropp, who finished with a match-high 12 kills.

“Emma didn't have a lot of time last year,” said Valley coach Katlyn Lewis, “so she's just coming out and I think she's just going to keep getting better and better. She did look awesome, as did [junior] Megan [Viganola], my libero.”

Lewis replaced longtime coach Andy Lewis (no relation) this season as head coach. She played volleyball at Pascack Valley and was a key member of the 2005 state championship team. She has also coached the junior varsity for the past five years..

“We're learning about each other,” she said. “I came in and I wanted them to be really into it and they all really are. They want to be here all the time, - they're excited to play. And I'm excited to be here so the energy is good. It’s going well. I thought they played excellently.”

Attack errors and net violations plagued the Indians throughout the match and unfortunately for them it cost them four of the last five points of the 25-21 loss in the first set. (A service ace by Feingold accounted for the fifth point).

“I think we had a couple too many errors in that first game and that put them over,” said Lewis. “I like that they’re being aggressive, though, so I tell him just keep swinging and they do.”

The second set was again close with the Indians leading early but Tenafly came back and a kill by Tapia tied the set 7-all. Two kills by senior co-captain Madison Pinnel, one by Tapia and a service ace by senior Sakura Eguchi gave the Tigers a four-point lead and they never trailed again in the match.

Koehler was pleased with his team’s performance and credited his captains, who each finished with six kills.

“Madison Pinnel and Susan Wie are my captains and I couldn’t ask for two better girls,” he said. “I've been lucky in volleyball from Michelle Koles, Jessica Shevins, Talia Sinisi, all those girls. Madison and Susan are all I want in a captain. Not only are they good players, which helps, [but] they really take the kids under their wings and the best thing was something I saw yesterday. While other seniors were leaving [practice] they’re helping clean up and last ones in the gym. That's a mark of a good leader.”

“Susan and Madison are amazing captains,” added Amtman, who also had six kills in the match. “They’re leaders; they have that quality. They help motivate us.”

The Indians fell to 4-3 with the loss but Lewis was satisfied with her team’s performance. In addition to Kropp’s 12 kills, junior setter Corrine Hermans distributed 22 assists and Viganola scooped 16 digs.

“I think in the beginning we came out a little bit slow and in the end I think we got a little bit timid,” she said. “I told him not to be hesitant but I think they can play really great. Our serve/receive was awesome, our defense was great.

“I thought it was going to be pretty evenly matched and it was. They had really good blocking and they had a couple really good kills too. I can’t wait to play them again because I think it will be exciting. It could have went either way.”