by Andrew Garda
It’s been a roller coaster season for the Montclair High School boys volleyball team, with Friday’s 2-0 loss to Livingston the latest lull. The team had established a solid 5-3 record when they beat East Orange on the road on April 25, but since they have had three straight losses to a 5-6 record.
According to coach Pam Reilly, it’s the little things and the way the team finds a way to be their own worst enemy at times.
“That’s been the mantra,” she said after the loss. “How can we get in our own way, in our own heads?”
That was the case with both sets for the Mounties against the Lancers, both of which they lost by a score of 25-18.
In both cases, the Mounties fell behind early but managed to battle back and shift momentum in their favor. During the first set, MHS pulled to within a point, trailing just 11-10 before serving the ball into the net and sparking a 9-3 Livingston run. In the second set, the Mounties pulled even twice, and to within two points at 14-12, only to have a series of miscommunications and mistakes give Livingston time to lengthen their lead.
“We constantly shoot ourselves in the foot,” Reilly said. “And against a team like Livingston or a team like Bloomfield, you can’t make mistakes. They earn their own points, so giving them points by hitting the ball into the net, letting the ball hit the floor and not calling for it — now you’re just adding fuel to their fire.”
What made the result so disappointing was that you could see the talent this team has peek out quite frequently. On one wild attempt to return a volley, Eric Osterberg used his foot to send the ball up and keep it in play. Ryan McGeehan served up a nice spike and Amit Singh had some good serves, while Dean Schansinger not only worked hard when setting up the ball, but was a consistent presence of energy for his team both on the court and on the bench.
It wasn’t enough in this case, but the talent is there.
“Sometimes we’re able to overcome [lapses], but you’re not going to overcome it in a situation like this,” Reilly said. “Livingston is a disciplined team. They do what their coach asks them to do and they play a clean game of volleyball. So when you don’t play a clean game, it comes back to bite you in the butt.”
There’s still ample time for the Mounties to fix their issues and end the season on a high note.
First they faced North 13th Street Tech on the road Monday afternoon, fallinging by a score of 2-0, before playing at Belleville on Wednesday afternoon after press time.
After that, they will have the Essex County Tournament, beginning on May 12, and if they can make a run there, perhaps a berth in the NJ state tournament, which starts on May 22.