2012-05-30 / Sports

St. Joe’s positioned for run at state volleyball title

BY JIMMY ALLINDER Correspondent


St. Joseph High School’s Gregory Vajtay tries to block the shot from Old Bridge High School’s Junior Oboh during the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament final played May 19 at J.P. Stevens High School in Edison. 
ERIC SUCAR staff St. Joseph High School’s Gregory Vajtay tries to block the shot from Old Bridge High School’s Junior Oboh during the Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament final played May 19 at J.P. Stevens High School in Edison. ERIC SUCAR staff When St. Joseph High School’s highly touted volleyball team (33- 5) dropped four matches back in April, the players were naturally upset.

The Metuchen-based school is, after all, a perennial power, and the only goal each season — unfair though it may be — is to win the state championship.

Despite the sluggish start, head coach Miguel Cabrita reserved judgment on what the final results might be. That’s because he had a plan.

“The number of losses may have been unusual [a pair of defeats to Southern, one to GMC opponent Old Bridge and another to Fair Lawn],” he said, “but we hadn’t finalized wherewewould position the players. I like to use the early portion of the schedule to match their skills to what they do best, and correct the flaws.”

It appears the veteran coach’s philosophy is working. Except for a second defeat to Old Bridge on May 19, one that Cabrita says was impacted by “external circumstances” (he would not get into them), the Falcons are positioned tomake a serious run at another state title .

St. Joe’s is the top seed in the Central Jersey sectional and disposed of South Brunswick, 2-0, in its first match, and disposed of eighth-seed West Windsor-Plainsboro North on May 24. That sets up a semifinal match against Cinnaminson (fourth seed) onMay 30. The other semifinal features third-seed Old Bridge (yes, that Old Bridge) and second-seed Christian Brothers Academy. The finals will be held June 1. “I believe the team is well positioned to make a run,” Cabrita observes. “We’ve used the early-season matches to make adjustments in players’ positions according to the opponents’ strengths, but as I’ve said to the team, we have a unique opportunity to get better by practicing every day against some of the best in the state.”

St. Joe’s has distributed its offense among a mix of seniors and juniors. Junior Sean Finan leads with 231 kills and has become a force. He is joined by senior Phil Bueno (182 kills), junior Greg Vajtay (144 kills) and senior John Loubnan (144 kills).

The middle features quality throughout the lineup. Heading the list is senior Michael D’Ambrosio, who has assisted on 615 points. Junior Kurt MacDonald leads the team in digs with 344. Other members include seniors Joseph Haddad, Austin Mahony, Anthony Lubrano and Brian O’Grady, and juniors Sean Dacey (142 assists), Michael Hilyard, Connor Jamicky, Ray Kowalski, Alejandro Monsanta and Bryan Rafano. With the ultimate goal remaining the overall state title, St. Joe’s knows it needs to play itsAgame if it is to advance to the state semifinals and, if successful, the state finals. The Falcons do have a recent measurement as to how far they have come. They met up with one of the teams that defeated them earlier, Southern, generally regarded as the top team in New Jersey, on May 19 and scored a 2-0 victory.

“That was probably our most complete match of the season so far,” said Cabrita. “That one demonstrated what we can do if we play up to our potential.”

In other state tournament action involving area teams, J.P. Stevens (ninth seed) was eliminated by West Windsor-Plainsboro North to end its season with a 12-12 record.

Return to top