On October 23rd, the Ridgewood High School Varsity Volleyball team added their name to the record books, winning the Big North Freedom League Championship. This win tied both their section and overall record with Old Tappan, making them co-champions.
The final game took place at Ridgewood High School between Ridgewood and Old Tappan. Ridge-wood won two sets to one, winning the third set 25-23. If Ridgewood had lost, Old Tappan would have been the sole champion, but Ridgewood’s win allowed them to gain the title.
“It was really thrilling,” junior Morgan Dunican explains. “We had lost to Old Tappan before but we knew we could beat them. At one point in the last set, we were down by eight points, but even that didn’t stop us from coming out victorious.”
The team has eight seniors, leaving only three definite returning players for next year. However, this gave Ridgewood an advantage for this year, due to the experience that these players have. The team also has two juniors and a freshman, both with vast club experience.
“I’ve learned a lot about the game [from the seniors], and overall we have had a lot of fun,” Dunican tells. “I’m going to be sad next year when they all leave.”
Ridgewood finished the season with a section record of 11-1. Overall they only lost two games: one to Immaculate Heart Academy and one to Old Tappan, ranked #1 and #2 in the state.
Ridgewood entered the state tournament ranked #6. However, their success after the cut-off date could have made them a viable contender for one of the top three seeds as they won eighteen out of their last nineteen games. The team hoped to carry that momentum into the state tournament.
In the past, Ridgewood has won States in 1986, 1987, and 1996. At this year’s tournament, the team made it to the semifinal match against Southern. They started out the match very strong, leading the first set 25-21. However, the team was sadly defeated in the second and third sets, knocking them out of contention for the final.
Although winning the league championship is already an impressive feat in itself, the team has shown that they have what it takes to be elite. Their comeback in the league championship game not only showed skill, but also passion and grit. Also, their strong players that helped them make it to the state semifinal show how talented the team is. These attributes helped the team as a whole as they finished up their season.
“I think this whole season has made me a better player because when you work with such talented girls, your own game improves,” Dunican details.
As the team looks to next season, things are likely to be very different. A state championship is very much a possibility in the future, but the team will be forced to rebuild themselves after losing eight seniors.
“Next year is going to be interesting,” Dunican says. “The team is going to need to be built from scratch. Although it will definitely be a process, I am looking forward to the season!”
Graphic: Lia Collardo