SCOREBOARD 10-10-2010 Secaucus’ volleyball program reaches impressive milestoneBecomes only second program in state to collect 700 victories

It was probably a note that went by totally unnoticed a few weeks ago. After all, who sits around and counts the collective wins that one sport attains?
However, at a closer look, the idea that Secaucus High School girls’ volleyball program has now surpassed 700 victories over the years is quite startling and certainly very impressive.
Think about it. The Patriots have won more than 700 volleyball matches over the years. Considering that girls’ high school athletics really didn’t kick into full effect until the mid-1970s, that’s a lot of winning going on in just three decades.
When the Patriots defeated Becton last month, it was the 700th win in the program’s history, joining Paramus High School as the only two high school girls’ volleyball programs in New Jersey to attain the milestone.
It’s almost like the Patriots are the equivalent of what the St. Anthony boys’ basketball program has achieved in terms of winning over the years.
“I love having that comparison,” said Secaucus head volleyball coach Tiffany Meyer. “We all know the great things that St. Anthony has done in basketball. It’s a great honor to be compared with them.”
Meyer knows all about the Secaucus volleyball history. As Tiffany Aciz – long before she became a wife, mother of five-month-old baby girl Adison, and now coach – she was one of the greatest volleyball players and all-around athletes in the school’s history. She was an All-State volleyball player, and was the recipient of The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Year in 2001, before the newspaper chain doled out awards for the top male and female athletes. Meyer was one of only two female recipients of the honor when only one award was presented.
And here’s another amazing statistic. During her four years as a volleyball player at Secaucus, Meyer posted a record of 111-1, winning four straight Group I state championships.
“Sure, I remember the one,” Meyer said. “I’ll never forget that loss against North Arlington at North Arlington. That loss was hard to get over.”
Yes, that lone loss.
“I don’t think we realized what we were doing when we were in high school,” Meyer said. “I can’t believe it’s 10 years already. I feel old.”
Yeah, sure.
But Meyer realizes the importance of the milestone, because she has been so much of a part of it.
“I just think it shows that we have a lot of history here,” Meyer said. “I’m fortunate to have been part of that history, first as a player and now as a coach. I’m just happy to be able to instill some of the things I learned from Maria [Nolan, the long-time legendary coach] and Sheila [Ulrich Rivera, who replaced Nolan and coached for four years]. We have had a lot of kids who had sisters, cousins, mothers all play in this program. We’ve all done this together, and we’ve accomplished something that not a lot of people can say.”
Added Meyer, “We’re all part of this. We all grew up here, grew up playing volleyball together. We just want to make sure it continues. Getting to 700 is a crazy number. I remember when we got to 500, then 600 and thought that was insane. It’s hard to believe that another hundred wins have come. You don’t hear of it often, and it’s hard to grasp the idea of it all.”
Meyer said that the 700th win was a reason to pause and reflect.
“It’s something that we all should be proud of what we accomplished, every single girl who has played here,” Meyer said. “It’s part of being part of something big here at Secaucus. I think everyone who has ever played here has wanted to be part of the history.”
Over the years, there have been an astounding 19 NJSIAA state championships in girls’ volleyball, with Nolan the architect of 17 of those titles, and Ulrich Rivera guiding the Patriots to two more (2005 and 2006).
Meyer is now in her fourth season as head coach, and she’s yet to win the big prize.
“There’s a spot on the wall waiting there for me,” Meyer said, referring to this empty space on the wall in the Secaucus gym, right next to the other 19 state title banners. “We do talk about it, but we have to make the goal of taking it game-by-game. I don’t want them to worry about trying to win a state championship, but I really want these girls to get a taste of what it feels like, experience what I did as a player. It’s one of the things you never forget.”
And Meyer only got to experience that sense of winning an amazing four times.
Maybe there’s a chance for these current Patriots to create their own slice of history. The Patriots are currently 11-1 this season, which means the program now has 704 career wins. They recently won the prestigious Marlboro Tournament, defeating schools of much larger enrollment size. It was a nine-team tourney, and the Patriots went undefeated en route to the team title.
The Patriots have a good group of returning starters, led by three-sport standout senior Shannon Waters, who is carving a niche of excellence the way that Meyer did when she was an athlete. Waters is a middle hitter and setter for the Patriots and is also a standout basketball and softball player, much like Meyer was.
“Shannon is absolutely playing to her senior ability,” Meyer said. “She’s an all-around good athlete and she’s a big leader by example. She steps up to every challenge.”
Another key returnee is Shannon’s cousin, Alexis Waters, also a senior and also a middle hitter and setter.
“She’s just as dominating at the net as Shannon, but in a different way,” Meyer said.
Senior opposite hitter Andrea Lunapiena has also been a member of the Secaucus varsity for three seasons.
“She’s one of our best defensive players,” Meyer said.
Sophomore Danielle Roesing, a member of the fine athletic Roesing family that includes her sister and former Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year Cory (currently a two-sport athlete at Caldwell College), is fitting in well with her role.
“She’s not Cory yet, but she’s getting there,” Meyer said. “She’s a very smart player and very consistent in every facet of the game. You know if you get her the ball, she’s going to do something good with it.”
Junior Jacqueline McCaffery is another solid performer and a defensive standout.
“She’s our only left-handed player, so she hits the ball differently than most and that helps,” Meyer said.
Senior Cheryl Espinosa is another strong hitter and starter. Seniors Monica Shterenberg and Kendyl Voli are good hitters who play key reserve roles.
So could this be a state title contender?
“I really believe so,” Meyer said. “We should be in good contention to go far. I think they want it bad. They want to end their careers saying they won a state title. I’d also like to get one under my belt, because I think it would be more rewarding as a coach than as a player. But it’s been an ideal situation for me. Not many people get a chance to coach at the place where they played. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.”
Now, if they can just fill that hole on the wall and perhaps can do so with the 720th or so career victory at Secaucus High.

Jim Hague can be reached at

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