Maccabee, River Dell escape Mahwah
The last time we saw River Dell’s girls volleyball team, it was standing on the court in total dejection after dropping a two-game bout with eventual champion IHA in the Tournament of Champions’ semifinal round.
As much as the moment stung, the Golden Hawks are out to make us believers that they learned a hard lesson and are now ready to conduct a winning run of their own with little to no bumps along the way.
Armed with enough talent to carry out its ultimate goal, River Dell continued its early season schedule with a big victory over Bergen County rival Mahwah on Monday afternoon. The Golden Hawks won in three games, 25-18, 23-25, 25-18.
Last fall, River Dell, the fifth seed in the 2011 TOC, was coming off a 25-18, 25-21 victory over fourth-seeded Bogota when taking on IHA, but couldn’t use its momentum to pull off an upset of the state’s premiere program.
Of course, the loss didn’t smear the wonderful accomplishments River Dell achieved – it only made this season one to watch even closer.
“I wouldn’t want my team relying on being emotional,” River Dell coach Dianne Furusawa said. “It can’t be like a roller coaster because if things are good and emotions are high, you could always crash. I like level-headedness and calm.”
The team’s key returner and biggest ambassador of the low-key psyche is Mary Maccabee, who was a major factor in River Dell’s remarkable run at the Group 2 title last fall. The senior hitter will certainly need to duplicate her production if the team plans on going for a repeat.
Look no further than this match.
Maccabee – who said she’ll announce her college decision in October -- was everything the team needed, and more. She recorded 29 kills and helped fend off a feisty Mahwah squad that showed plenty of fight, especially in the decisive third game.
“We rely on Mary, but we want to mix it up,” Furusawa said. “I thought Mahwah played a wonderful match. They had us. For them to come in and play like this, it’s great.”
Junior setter Kalette de Marrais notched 11 digs and 27 assists for River Dell, which improved to 2-0 despite struggling to put away the opposition. Though the Golden Hawks lost superstar Kate Brock to graduation, they opened the campaign No. 3 in the MSG Varsity Top 10 preseason poll.
Meanwhile, No. 6 Mahwah fell to 1-1 several days after defeating Pascack Hills in the season opener. The Thunderbirds, even in defeat, caught some eyes and established themselves as a team to watch in Bergen County.
“I think playing them last year, we knew what we’d be up against,” Maccabee said. “We also knew they lost a lot of their talent, so maybe we didn’t consider them as serious a threat, but we were surprised.”
Amanda Berkman led Mahwah with 22 assists, while Brianna Spencer registered seven digs.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter