Montclair High School girls volleyball ’22: Bring home first division championship
The Montclair girls volleyball team in recent seasons came up just short of winning a Super Essex Conference division title.
For 2022, the Mounties were looking to finally bring home their first SEC Liberty Division championship.
And they did just that, with the help of a 10-match winning streak.
"I was pleased with the team's accomplishments and the fact that they came as the result of a collaborative effort," Montclair head coach Pam Reilly said.
"Our overall record, 13-6, was impressive, as well as our 10-game winning streak. Winning the Liberty Division was an awesome feat."
Along with that first divisional championship, the Mounties had their best seeding, eighth, in the Super Essex County Tournament as well as their first appearance in an SEC Tournament quarterfinal. The team also had its best seed, fifth, in the state tournament.
Reilly believed that the reason for the success of her squad this past fall was versatility. "We had several players who could and did play more than one position," she said.
The Mounties' 10-game winning streak went from Sept. 22 to Oct. 14 before finally ending in the Essex County Tournament quarterfinals at Livingston, 2-1, on Oct. 18.
The coach said the key to the winning streak was a resilience that included “ugly” wins.
"We placed ourselves in tough situations in many of those matches, but we managed to forge ahead and get the wins," she said. "Some of our players described some of them as ‘ugly’ wins, and I would have to agree."
Ironically, Reilly believed that the defeat at the hands of Livingston was the team’s best-played match of the season.
"We were prepared for the competition. Our mindset was that we could match up with the number one team in the conference, and we did," the coach said. "When we succumbed to our usual communication problems, they were able to take advantage and win the match."
Along with the Liberty Division crown, Montclair had two players on the division first team, senior Jaimee Keys and junior Camila Herrera.
Keys led the Mounties’ offense with an average of almost four kills per match. "When she decided to, Jaimee had the ability to completely dominate a set and match with her play," Reilly said.
Herrera, as Montclair’s setter, propelled the team to the division championship. "Camila never backed down from a challenge," the coach said about Herrera, who averaged more than 10 assists per match.
"In the midst of running a 5-1 offense and playing defense in six rotations, she welcomed the opportunity to match up with the best opposing players in the front and back rows."
Contributing this season were a pair of juniors, Carlie Holm and Katarina Hube, who were placed on the All-SEC Liberty honorable mention list.
Holm was the “X factor” for the squad as a middle hitter. "She expanded her offensive repertoire to include more tempo and zone attacks," Reilly said.
"She was not only effective on the offensive side of the ball, but also carried us to victory in several matches with her serving and defense."
Hube would be able to adjust during a match. "If she struggled with consistency with any one of her skills in a match, she would find other ways to contribute," the coach said.